Lake Manitoba update: October 25, 2015

The province reduced outflows at Fairford on Monday (election day) to the point where outflows are now only slightly above inflows (see the posting on Tuesday for the details and press release from MIT). As a consequence, the lake will not fall in the near future, and will rise with any precipitation. It rose this last week about 1/10th of a foot, and now sits at 811.91 feet. Lake St. Martin currently sits at 800.89 feet. Fairford outflows are are currently 5,825 cfs, with inflow at the Waterhen River at 4,836 cfs 4. Inflow at the Whitemud River is currently 169 cfs. Assiniboine flow at Holland remains low at 1,973 cfs.

River update
Time: 8:30 AM October 25
Portage Diversion: closed
Assiniboine at Holland: 1,970 cfs
Assiniboine at Headingly: 1,892 cfs
Waterhen: 4,836 cfs
Whitemud: 169 cfs
Fairford: 5,825 cfs
Lake update
Time: 8:30 AM October 25
Steep Rock: 811.88 ft
Westbourne: 811.94 ft
Mean level: 811.91 ft
Lake St. Martin: 800.89 ft


Fairford outflows cut by MIT

Our provincial government cut outflows at Fairford yesterday from about 7,300 cfs to 5,300 cfs today. The stated reason is to prevent the formation of frazil ice downstream. The outflow from Fairford is now roughly the same as inflow from the Waterhen and Whitemud Rivers, meaning that Lake Manitoba will not decline any further in the near future. I am sure the choice of date – the same day as the Federal Election – was just a coincidence.

The text of last Friday’s news release from the province is pasted below.


October 16, 2015
– – –
Operation to help Control Potential Ice Damages Downstream on the Dauphin River

Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation will conduct a winter operation of the Fairford Control Structure to control potential ice damages in downstream communities on the Dauphin River. This will help reduce the flow of the Dauphin River during the transition from open water to a solid ice cover, reducing the frazil ice flood threat that occurs from the start of freeze-up to completion.

The purpose of reducing outflow from Lake Manitoba through the Fairford River is to reduce flows on the Dauphin River, which is located downstream of Lake St. Martin. Lower flows on the Dauphin River reduce the potential for frazil ice to develop, which could result in ice jam-related flooding of communities ‎located on the Dauphin River downstream of Lake St. Martin. The Fairford flow setting will provide Lake Manitoba with a continued decline in levels while helping to reduce the potential impacts of frazil ice downstream.

Flows will be reduced starting next early week, to 5,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) from the current flow of approximately 6,000 cfs. Lake Manitoba is currently at 811.9 feet above sea level, which is within the desired operating range.

This year, flows will be reduced from mid-October to mid-January and then will be opened again to full discharge should conditions permit. Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation will be continuously monitoring conditions on both the river and lakes, and will make further adjustments as required to manage water levels.

Lake Manitoba update: October 18, 2015

The level of Lake Manitoba fell over the last week to 811.83 ft, as did the level of Lake St. Martin which now sits at 800.82 feet. Fairford outflows are declining with the level of Lake Manitoba and are currently 7,131 cfs. Inflow from the Waterhen River is dropping slowly as well, and is now 4,413 cfs. Whitemud flow remains very low at 182 cfs. Assiniboine flow at Holland remains low at 1,970 cfs.

River update
Time: 9:00 AM October 18
Portage Diversion: closed
Assiniboine at Holland: 1,970 cfs
Assiniboine at Headingly: 1,889 cfs
Waterhen: 4,413 cfs
Whitemud: 182 cfs
Fairford: 7,131 cfs
Lake update
Time: 9:00 AM October 18
Steep Rock: 811.81 ft
Westbourne: 811.84 ft
Mean level: 811.83 ft
Lake St. Martin: 800.82 ft

Liberal Party Responds

Good Morning Scott;
Thank you for writing to us regarding the flooding of Lake Manitoba.
We all know that climate change is real. The jury is in. Especially so in Canada.

We’re already seeing its effects – from drought to coastal erosion, from ice storms to forest fires. In Alberta, in just the last five years, we’ve seen destruction on an almost unprecedented scale. The 2013 floods were one of the costliest natural disasters in Canadian history. Economic losses topped $5 billion, with nearly $2 billion paid out by insurers. These challenges demand a coordinated response and a Liberal government will provide that response.

Liberals are committed to working with provinces, territories and municipalities to develop a comprehensive action plan that allows us to better prepare for – and respond to – weather-related emergencies. Whether the end result is reinforcement to key infrastructure like dams and transmission lines, or the relocation of crucial access roads away from flood plains or other at-risk areas, every day that we ignore this issue is another lost opportunity. In other words, if we do not make responding to climate change a priority, we are putting our citizens, our environment and our economy at risk.

A Liberal government will provide dedicated funding to invest in a broad range of projects, including but not limited to local water and waste water facilities and climate resilient infrastructure. We will also support efforts to prepare for changing weather patterns, such as: improved storm water systems to diminish the impact of urban floods, additional dams and dikes to prevent overland or coastal flooding, and the reinforcement of energy systems in the face of possible ice storms. These and other efforts will be undertaken in partnership with other orders of government and based on the best available science. We will boost investment in green infrastructure by nearly$6 billion over the next four years, and almost $20 billion over ten years.

We will incorporate climate impact analysis into federal government contracting. We will use new financing instruments to stimulate investments in retrofits and distributed energy systems, and make significant improvements to the energy efficiency of Canada’s industrial, commercial, and residential buildings. Green infrastructure projects eligible for investment will include systems to protect against changing weather such as dams, dikes, reinforcement of energy grids, etc., to protect against wildfires, storm water, floods, etc.

Liberals will also deepen our commitment to work with other governments to protect Canada’s freshwater through education, geo-mapping, watershed protection, and infrastructure investments in the best waste water treatment technologies. We will work with the provinces of Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba – as well as our American partners – to prevent the spread of invasive species, undertake science-based initiatives to better understand and manage water levels, and clean-up of coastal contamination.

We will restore $1.5 million in federal funding for freshwater research, which was cut by the Conservatives, and make new investments in Canada’s world-leading IISD Experimental Lakes Area. A Liberal government will rapidly develop a road map to meet Canada’s international commitment to protect 17 percent of our land and inland waters by 2020. The protection of our freshwater resources will be an imperative.

Thank you again for taking the time to share your concerns. I look forward to further engagement with local stakeholders on this crucial issue.
Kind Regards,

Ray Piche

Green Party Responds 

We received the following reply from the Green Party:

Thank you for contacting the Green Party on these issues of extreme importance to those living and working around Lake Manitoba. It is time to end the delays in addressing the flooding problem. The Green party’s answers are below:

1. What is your parties position on improving the management of water and flooding between provinces?

Decades of shortsightedness have created flooding problems in Lake Manitoba and no one is taking responsibility. The idea of diverting flood water away from Winnipeg by putting it through Lake Manitoba without an adequate outlet was known to be a problem from the start. Years of wetland and field drainage have done exactly what it was intended to do – remove water upstream faster and dump it downstream, with predictable consequences to those downstream. The responsibility for this disaster falls squarely onto government which allowed the drainage and the diversions with no recognition of the resulting damage.

The Green Party will act swiftly to protect Canada’s wetlands. We will work with landowners to restore or forego drainage on prairie potholes and wetlands that currently receive much of spring meltwater. We can draw from successful provincial programs, including the Wetland Restoration Incentive Program, initiated in 2008 as a partnership between Manitoba, Ducks Unlimited, and the Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation. 

The Green Party has proposed a “Council of Canadian Governments” which would bring all levels of government together to develop strategies for issues which cross jurisdictions. Federal, Provincial, Municipal and First Nation leadership need to sit down together to form a plan and decide on an appropriate implementation strategy.

2. Currently there are several plans to create a larger outlet for Lake Manitoba water. What is your parties position on funding the outlet? What percentage of the overall costs would you fund?

 In July 2015 the federal government committed $165 million to the construction of the outlet. This is 30% of the cost, but it is tied to unexplained “federal eligibility requirements”. The Green Party would ensure that the project gets funded as promised and does not get side tracked by loop holes as has happened to so many of the current government’s so called promises.

3. The current damage to Lake Manitoba from the floods of 2011 and 2014 have destroyed shorelines, wetland, personal property, commercial property, and farmland. What action would your party take to address these outstanding and unresolved problems? 

Government programs caused the current damage and so government must address these problems. The Green Party would work with the provinces in good faith to resolve the issues, ending the long delays and getting the promised dollars to those who have lost property and land.

4. The United States Government has developed a flood insurance program to help people cope with flooding. In Canada no such program exists, and private insurance is not available. What action would your party take on this issue?

Greens would open discussions about flood insurance and consult with those affected at all stages of the development of a proposal. A Flood Insurance program would need to be funded by government because government action caused the un-natural flooding situation on Lake Manitoba. 


Kate Storey, Green Party candidate for Dauphin Swan River Neepawa


From the Environment Canada site for Oak Point weather:

Wind warning in effect.

DateDetailed Forecast

Today Periods of rain ending this morning then cloudy with 30 percent chance of showers. Amount 5 to 10 mm. Wind northwest 70 km/h gusting to 100 except gusting to 120 near Lake Manitoba this morning. Wind becoming northwest 40 gusting to 60 near noon. Temperature falling to 6 this afternoon.

Tonight Clearing late this evening. Wind northwest 40 km/h gusting to 60 diminishing to 20 early this evening then becoming light late this evening. Low plus 1.