711.42157 R 72/33

The Canadian Minister (Massey) to the Secretary of State

No. 61

Sir: I have the honour to refer to previous correspondence regarding the improvement of the drainage in the valley of the Roseau River, and especially to your note of February 25th. last and my acknowledgment thereof of February 27th.36 The Secretary of State for External Affairs has now instructed me to inform you that he has taken note of your observations that apprehensions exist lest the construction of the Roseau River improvement works on the Canadian side of the boundary should cause extensive damage by flooding of lands in Roseau and Kittson Counties, Minnesota, and also of your request that the entire problem of the improvement of the Roseau River system be referred to the International Joint Commission for investigation, report and recommendations, and that meanwhile work on the Canadian side of the boundary be suspended.

His Majesty’s Government in Canada has given careful consideration to these representations. A further analysis has been made of the effect of the proposed improvements upon the water levels at the boundary, and communications upon the subject have been exchanged with the Government of the Province of Manitoba.

The further examinations which have been made of the lower Roseau River improvement project confirm the view expressed in my note Number 269 of November 1st. 1927, that the effect of the works is not believed to be contrary to the spirit or provisions of the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909,37 and that it is not believed that the works as designed will raise the natural level of the waters on the south side of the International Boundary. The discharge sections of the proposed floodway have been checked, and the calculations confirm the opinion that flood-flows recorded prior to the adoption of the scheme of improvement can be handled without any backwater effect in Minnesota.

As there appears, however, to be some apprehension on the part of interests in the United States as to possible detrimental effect of the works on the upper reaches of the Roseau River, His Majesty’s Government in Canada will have pleasure in joining with the United States in referring the entire problem of the Roseau River system to the International Joint Commission for investigation, report and recommendation under Article 9 of the Boundary Waters Treaty.

As previously indicated, the surface channel or floodway capacity of the River could be increased to receive the additional flood waters [Page 57] from Minnesota, if this action should prove to be necessary at a future date on a recommendation of the International Joint Commission accepted by the Governments of Canada and the United States.

His Majesty’s Government in Canada has also given consideration to the advisibility of including the Red River within the scope of the proposed reference, having in mind the damaging effects on the foreshore of that River in Canada resulting from increased flood-flows brought about by the construction of very extensive drainage works in its upper watershed in the United States. It has been concluded, however, that this would open up a question requiring very lengthy consideration on the part of the Commission; and in view of the fact that the Roseau problem is simple and self-contained and will permit of an early finding by the Commission, it is prepared to proceed at once with the consideration of the Roseau, leaving to a future time the proposal that the Red River should be made the subject of a reference.

His Majesty’s Government in Canada desires to nominate Mr. K. M. Cameron, Chief Engineer, Department of Public Works, to confer with the authorized representative to be named by the Government of the United States for the purpose of drawing up suitable terms of reference to the, International Joint Commission.

In view of the further check which has been made of the effect of the proposed works and in view of the fact that a reference to the Commission will very shortly be under way, His Majesty’s Government in Canada assumes that there will be no objection to proceeding with the preliminary works now under construction.

I have [etc.]

Laurent Beaudry

(For the Minister)
  1. Acknowledgment not printed.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1910, p. 532.