Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

City will ask commision for decision on extending water services

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City council voted to ask an international commission for an expedited decision on their plan to extend water pipes to neighbouring municipalities.

This morning, council voted 12-4 in favour of a revised service-sharing plan that would see officials to continue to negotiate extending sewer services to rural municipalities. Meanwhile, the city will ask the International Joint Commission (IJC), a Canada-U.S. body that prevents and resolves cross-border water disputes, to make a decision on their plans to extend water pipes to neighbouring municipalities.

The City of Winnipeg announced this week it has put off a plan to extend water pipes into the rural municipalities of Rosser and West St. Paul after receiving a letter from the IJC that raised undisclosed "issues" with the city's plan.

A copy of the letter obtained by the Free Press reveals the commission raised concerns Winnipeg was given permission to draw water from Shoal Lake "exclusively" for city residents. In a letter dated Sept. 20, commission officials said the water is not to be shared beyond Winnipeg's municipal boundary.

This morning, Mayor Sam Katz said it appears the IJC wants to review Winnipeg's plans a little further, and city administration has asked them to proceed as quickly as they can.

Katz said there could be major issues with CentrePort if Winnipeg is unable to extend its water pipes to the RM of Rosser.

"We'll just have to wait for that response," he said following this morning's executive policy committee.

Ontario gave Winnipeg permission to draw water from Shoal Lake for municipal purposes in an order in council in 1913, and the federal government and the International Joint Commission also issued water-taking authorizations in 1913 and 1914.

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