Portage Diversion reopens

MIT has reopened the Portage Diversion: the text of their press release is pasted below:

April 28, 2015
PROVINCE ADVISES PORTAGE DIVERSION WILL OPERATE TO MAINTAIN DOWNSTREAM FLOW ALONG ASSINIBOINE RIVER FROM PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE TO WINNIPEG

The Hydrologic Forecast Centre of Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation reports the Portage Diversion will be operated today to maintain a maximum flow of 12,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) down the lower Assiniboine River.

Flows coming along the Assiniboine River into the Portage Reservoir are forecast to peak at 13,000 cfs over the weekend. The average daily flow through the Portage Diversion will be 500 cfs over 14 days with an approximate peak flow of 1,000 cfs.

The operational forecast is based on a dry 10-day precipitation forecast. The Hydrologic Forecast Centre will continue to monitor weather conditions and update the operational forecast as necessary.

Lake Manitoba is currently at 813.23 feet, 0.73 ft. above normal operating range, but below flood stage for structures (814 ft.). Inflow to Lake Manitoba from the Waterhen River is currently at 8,200 cfs. Inflow to Lake Manitoba from the Whitemud River is currently at 300 cfs. Outflow from Lake Manitoba through the Fairford River is currently at 11,100 cfs.

An Open Letter to ALMS members – Activity Update

April Update

The Board has met three times since the Annual General Meeting. We have re-affirmed that the management of Lake Manitoba is our main objective. In an attempt to influence policy-makers we have requested a meeting with Minister Kostyshyn to discuss the Portage Diversion, Fairford WCS and the proposed new outlet from Lake Manitoba.
At that meeting we will repeat that management of Lake Manitoba is dependent upon balancing inflow and outflow of water into Lake Manitoba; and that we do not want our problem solved at the expense of other communities. We will remind the government that a report commissioned by the Province recommended a range of operation between 810 and 812 cfs – consistently exceeded in the last five years. We will remind them that the current high lake level is a direct result of their policy to lower flows out of Fairford. We will express disappointment that both projects of Reach One and Reach Three have failed to operate as intended. The consequences of these failures are borne by communities and farms along the shores of Lake Manitoba, Lake St Martin and the Dauphin River.
The Board has reviewed an alternate plan to manage Lake Manitoba water levels. Once completed this concept will be reviewed with the Province and Federal representatives. There will be an opportunity for all ALMS members to be briefed on the plan and government response.

Efforts have been made to encourage other coalitions such as the Lake Manitoba Rehabilitation Committee, municipal representatives and Northern Bands to add to the choir of voices calling for an end to artificial flooding. Members were asked to meet with Conservative candidates to brief them on short and long term goals/concerns for the lake. Because the Legislature is back in session we will suggest questions that may be asked from the floor of the Assembly during Question Period. Recently Roger Gillis met with Steve Topping to discuss, and no doubt debate, issues related to Fairford and the Diversion.

We want to acknowledge the work done by Scott Forbes on our behalf. He continues to be a regular and respected contributor to op-ed pages in the Free Press. He provides daily analysis and up-dates on water flows in the Assiniboine watershed and has been helpful in planning efforts of the Board.

We share the frustrations of those who have been are living with high stress. We are anxious to meet with the Province to continue the struggle to bring about a managed Lake Manitoba.

Sincerely,
Jack King, President
for:
Scott Greenlay, Vice-President
Destiny Watt secretary
Alice Dent treasurer
Don Clarkson – past president
Directors at large – Harry Frederick, Jean Allard

Flood update: April 26, 2015

As the ice clears the lake is beginning to be affected by wind, making measures of lake level less precise. North winds have pushed water in into the south basin of the lake. The current level of Lake Manitoba is 0.04 feet higher than last week, sitting at 813.24 feet. A gauge calibration was performed over the last week so it is not clear whether the lake is actually higher or if the change is due to the calibration. In 2014, the level of the lake was 812.17 feet on April 26th, more than a foot below the current lake level. In 2011, the lake was 813.66 feet on April 26th and rising rapidly with the Portage Diversion wide open. The Diversion remains closed today.

The Waterhen gauge is now up and running and flows are registering at 8,119 cfs. This is more than twice as high as the long-term median flow of 3,700 cfs. The high flows on the Waterhen are due to the high level of Lake Winnipegosis and are keeping Lake Manitoba high. To put this in perspective, with flows on the Waterhen at 8,000 cfs, Lake Manitoba cannot fall below 812.25 feet. That is when the outflow at Fairford reaches 8,000 cfs. Lake Manitoba will remain high as long as Lake Winnipegosis remains high.

The outflow at Fairford remains high and is currently 11,120 cfs. The level of Lake St. Martin remains above flood level (801.0 feet) and is currently 801.38 feet.

Flow on the Assiniboine at Holland has been rising over the week and now sits at 11,684 cfs.

River update
Time: 8:30 AM April 26
Portage Diversion: closed
Assiniboine at Holland: 11,684 cfs
Assiniboine at Headingly: 11,296 cfs
Waterhen: 8,119 cfs
Whitemud: 300 cfs
Fairford: 11,120 cfs
 
Lake update
Time: 8:30 AM April 26
Steep Rock: 813.16 ft
Westbourne: 813.32 ft
Mean level: 813.24 ft
Lake St. Martin: 801.38 ft

Flood update: April 19, 2015

Finally some good news. The Portage Diversion was closed on Thursday and the Fairford Water Control Structure is at last wide open – only 5 ½ months after its flows were restricted. Outflow at Fairford is now 11,300, cfs, which is the maximum possible at the current lake level.

Lake Manitoba peaked at 813.22 feet this week and has fallen slightly since then, sitting at 813.20 feet today. The gauge on the Waterhen River continues to malfunction so we do not have an accurate read on river inflows. However, at the current level of Lake Winnipegosis, Waterhen flows should be between 7,800 and 8,000 cfs. With flows on the Whitemud River very low, the net outflow from Lake Manitoba is about 3,000 cfs, or enough to drop the lake level 2 inches a month. Thus with dry weather we should see a steady albeit slow decline in the lake level.

With rising inflow from Fairford, the level of Lake St. Martin has begun to rise, and is up 0.14 feet on the week: it is now above the flood level of 801.0 feet. The emergency channel on Lake St. Martin, built to lower the level of Lake St. Martin, is not fully open.

Flow on the Assiniboine at Holland has fallen from a peak of over 13,000 cfs last week to about 11,000 cfs today.

River update
Time: 7:30 AM April 19
Portage Diversion: closed
Assiniboine at Holland: 11,014 cfs
Assiniboine at Headingly: 11,296 cfs
Waterhen: gauge malfunctioning
Whitemud: 353 cfs
Fairford: 11,296 cfs
 
Lake update
Time: 7:30 AM April 19
Steep Rock: 813.21 ft
Westbourne: 813.19 ft
Mean level: 813.20 ft
Lake St. Martin: 801.15 ft

Update to the Sunday update

Members of ALMS met with Steve Topping last Friday and received an update on the operation of the Portage Diversion and Fairford Water Control Structure and current water conditions. The plan is to increase flows on the Assiniboine east of Portage la Prairie and reduce flows in the Portage Diversion. Both started to happen this afternoon. Flows in the Diversion have dropped significantly from about 3,000 cfs this morning to about 2,000 cfs at 8:00 PM today. At the same time, flows out of the Portage Reservoir to the lower Assiniboine have increased.

Flow upstream at Holland peaked on April 10/11 and is now falling.

The plan is to fully open the Fairford Water Control Structure this week: this will take a couple of days and will increase the outflow from Lake Manitoba.

As to the correct flow rates, the numbers I posted Sunday were correct with one exception: the Waterhen River. The flow rates posted by MIT for the Assiniboine were too low.

The real flow on the Waterhen was 6780 cfs: the gauge has been providing erroneous readings during ice out. This helps to explain, in part, why Lake Manitoba rose so quickly last week. Higher flows on the Waterhen and substantial inflows from the Portage Diversion (now reduced) contributed in part to a 1/6th of a foot rise in the lake last week.

Scott Forbes