Mud Lake report disappointing for some, raising questions for others

More Churchill River monitoring welcome, says MUN researcher, but ice thickness needs to be included

Though the recently released independent review of the Mud Lake flood says there is no evidence Muskrat Falls played a role in the spring flooding of the community, it did offer recommendations, such as a better ice-monitoring system, to help prevent it from occurring in the future.

"My concern is that we're going into the fall and are a month and a half away from freeze-up and have not seen the necessary monitoring capacity put in place," said Robert Way, a PhD fellow at the the Labrador Institute.

"Not only that, but we haven't seen any evidence that Nalcor is taking the risk of ice jam flooding seriously."

The report, which was conducted by Karl-Erich Lindenschmidt of the University of Saskatchewan together with engineering consultant KGS Group, did suggest there wasn't sufficient evidence that Muskrat Falls caused this year's flooding. Way does point out, though, that it says it could increase the chance of flooding in the future.

"This is something that was not presented during any of the environmental review process, but seems like it's something that's going to have to be looked at in the future," he said.

Way also says the report raises more questions about the Upper Churchill project and the role it may have played in the flood.

"There's actually reason to suspect from the report … [that] some of the changes that occurred in flow from the Upper Churchill were changes that would increase the likelihood of an ice jam occurring," he said.

"Muskrat Falls doesn't really have the ability to hold back a lot of water so it couldn't do that change, but at Upper Churchill they can."


The findings of the report did not go over well with many in Mud Lake and for others the way in which the report was done was disappointing.

"I think the people of Mud Lake are generally disgusted with the whole thing," Mud Lake resident Dave Raeburn said.

Lindenschmidt and a representative from KGS Group were in town to present the initial findings to the community members of Mud Lake, but they did not return to present the finalized report.

Raeburn said the report, as presented, was overly technical and could have been explained more clearly.

"The fact that they haven't showed up this time speaks volumes," he said.

Despite his grievances, Reaburn hopes the provincial government acts on the report's recommendations.

"I hope that the government will take at least some of the information that they got from this report and take heed of the recommendations as far as following up the ice monitoring, dredging the river and the other recommendations."