A landmark legal case, an economic panacea, a political boondoggle, a solution to the drought of the century, a sell-out to the Americans, a boon to wildlife, and an environmental holocaust - all these terms have been applied to the Rafferty-Alameda project. Against the Flow
is a first-person account of the bureaucratic incompetence and political mismanagement behind this controversial dam development, which reveals at the same time the woeful inadequacy of the federal government's environmental assessment process.
George Hood was one of the principals involved in the Rafferty-Alameda project. His detailed, careful analysis of the complexities and nuances of events between 1985 and 1993 elucidates a story that has been fundamentally misunderstood by the Canadian public.
He begins with a historical overview of the Souris River system and the harsh drought- and
flood-threatened climate that has made water management a perennial concern in the area
since the beginning of the century. He details the labyrinthine processes of obtaining permits and approvals for construction of the dams, the animosity between the provincial and federal governments, the court challenges brought by environmental groups and others, the role the media played in shaping public perceptions, and the conflicts between the politicians and their own bureaucrats that resulted in monumental confusion
over the project.
Against the Flow raises important questions about how wrong-headed decisions get
made by government and are then justified and defended. It is a timely story for anyone interested in the changing politics of the environment. It also provides a window on the politics of the country, the entrenched power of bureaucracy in Ottawa, the increasing influence of special interest groups, and the consequent declining role of those we elect at both the federal and provincial levels.