The Municipality of Rhineland and the R.M. of Stanley are repeating calls for the province to re-design the South Buffalo Drain.

The channel, which falls under provincial perview, begins in the R.M. of Stanley and proceeds east through Rhineland before flowing into the Red River.

The two municipalities argue the current system has become inadequate thanks to increased water flows and a lack of maintenance over the years and as a result, farmland in Rhineland is becoming flooded more frequently.

"In high-water events there's quite a bit of erosion and certainly lots of flooding," explained Rhineland reeve, Don Wiebe, who feels a re-design would help for spring run-off and for big rain events throughout the season.

"(During) those big events in spring there's quite a bit of crop damage. We haven't done a detailed mapping of it but are intuitively saying it would be a great help to people that farm in the area to have a drain that is designed to provincial standards," he said.

Stanley reeve, Morris Olafson, noted a lot of this water comes from his municipality.

"It doesn't affect us so much but we want to be good neighbours. Any drop of water extra that we send over affects the drain all the way along the system," he said.

Olafson noted a study conducted on the drain indicated the system required more than just a clean-out.

"Not to say we haven't dug in there ourselves and done our own thing in trying to remediate this along the way, but it's way bigger than any one municipality can handle," he said. "We're talking multi-million dollar stuff here, even a clean out (would be expensive), so it's not a small feat."

Ideally, the reeve says he'd like to see more retention ponds, additional steps in the ditching and other measures that would help slow the flow of water and pace it out over the two to three week run-off period in spring.

Wiebe agreed, saying this lobbying is all done in the context of water management from a watershed perspective.

"We all think, and we keep making the point, that in Rhineland it's all about the provincial drains. Those provincial drains have to be in good shape and everything works better, it's to everybody's advantage."

Olafson added this would be a cost-shared project between the two municipalities and the province, and says the ball is now in the province's court to make a decision.

"It is their drain so they have to pony up at some point to make it better," he said.


Between spring run-off and big water event, Don Wiebe says the drain routinely breaches its banks and has caused significant crop damage over the years. File photo.