Events on the Upper Assiniboine

There has been a bit of unseen drama on the upper Assiniboine over the last week. Late last week, flows out of Saskatchewan on the Assiniboine rose to over 11,000 at the inlet to the Shellmouth Reservoir. Outflow from the reservoir, however, was held at 3,000 cfs and below. As a consequence the level of the Shellmouth Reservoir rose quickly. However, the peak flow on the upper Assiniboine has now passed, and flows are falling quickly, being about 7,400 cfs at Kamsack at the moment (7:00 PM Tuesday). While all this has been going on, flow on the lower Assiniboine has remained at or below about 6,000 cfs. In short, much of the high water on the upper Assiniboine has been stored in the Shellmouth Reservoir for later release. By holding back the peak flow, it appears that MIT reduced the need to open the Portage Diversion. The province has been gradually increasing outflow from the Shellmouth Reservoir over the last several days (3,200 cfs today), which is resulting in some flooding downstream of Shellmouth between the dam and St. Lazare.

Lake Manitoba update: April 24, 2016

This week has seen a continued rise in the level of Lake Manitoba and events upstream may make the situation worse in the next fortnight. Following the heavy rains last week, flow on the Whitemud jumped to more than 1,500 cfs midweek. It has now fallen back to 988 cfs this morning. Flow on the Waterhen River has now risen to 5,119 cfs. Outflow at Fairford rose slightly to 5,330 cfs but with the combined inflow from the Waterhen and Whitemud Rivers exceeding outflow at Fairford, Lake Manitoba will rise steadily for the foreseeable future. That rise will accelerate if the Portage Diversion is opened in the next week or so. The level of Lake Manitoba is currently 812.00 feet, up 0.09 feet over the last week, and a quarter foot over the last two weeks. The level of Lake St. Martin also rose and is now sitting at 800.59 feet, up 0.16 feet from last week.

Events on the upper Assiniboine are now cause for some concern. Inflow to the Shellmouth Reservoir is now over 11,000 cfs, and MIT has been filling the reservoir rapidly. The level of the Shellmouth Reservoir has risen 16 feet since the first week of April and it is currently rising more than 1.4 feet a day. It is still more than 9 feet below its maximum level, so there is room to store more water. Outflow from the reservoir is now starting to rise, which will mean higher flows on the lower Assiniboine. Outflow from the reservoir rose yesterday to about 3,000 cfs from about 2,000 cfs the previous day.

Flow on the Assiniboine rose to 5,224 cfs at Holland and 6,072 cfs at Headingly. The level of the Portage Reservoir is rising, an event that normally precedes an opening of the Portage Diversion.

River update
Time: 9:00 AM April 24, 2016
Portage Diversion: closed
Assiniboine at Holland: 5,224 cfs
Assiniboine at Headingly: 6,072 cfs
Waterhen: 5,119 cfs
Whitemud: 988 cfs
Fairford: 5,330 cfs
 
Lake update
Time: 9:00 AM April 24, 2016
Steep Rock: 811.89 ft
Westbourne: 812.12 ft
Mean level: 812.00 ft
Lake St. Martin: 800.59 ft

Opinion: Time for Change -Jack King, President of ALMS

Though I have served as President of the Association of Lake Manitoba Stakeholders this past year, I am expressing my own opinion in the following post.
     As the adage goes, vote for whomever you choose but please vote. It is simplistic to assume that there is one issue only which directs the electorate’s decision toward one candidate or one party over others.
     That being said the issue that I am addressing is the government response to the artificial flooding of Lake Manitoba. I will not let another election come and go without voicing opinion on the quality of leadership on this important issue.
     It is a matter of fact that the Portage Diversion inflows surpass the outflow from the Fairford Water Control System (FWCS). It is also a fact that enhancements to the Diversion allow it to displace even more water into Lake Manitoba. There is general agreement that a direct channel from Lake Manitoba is needed in the north basin. It took the Province two years to announce in 2013 that it would build such a channel in seven years. In this election they are now projecting 10 years before we have the capacity to manage Lake Manitoba. No doubt the environmental impact study will take two years – please note that the aforementioned Portage Diversion enhancements were done without such study.
     The Lake St Martin channel was built at an announced cost of $100 million. The new channel has been an abject failure. It has never run at capacity, kept the community of Lake St Martin at flood stage and has had negligible effect on Lake Manitoba water levels.
     The ALMS executive held a series of briefing meetings with the Federal Conservatives (prior to the election), the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, the Provincial NDP and Conservatives. The Provincial Liberal party did not respond to the invitation. The meetings were attended by the ranking Member of Parliament for Manitoba, Shelly Glover, with MPs Sopuck and Bezan; the Grand Chief and band chiefs in the region participated in talks with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs; and the Conservative caucus attended the briefing and follow-up meetings. Having policy makers present gave substance to the meetings. By not having the same level of participation from the Province questions were deferred with many going unanswered.
We shared information related to an option previously dropped by the Province that involves the use of pumps at Lake Winnipegosis rather than the favored channel networks in the Lake St. Martin to Dauphin River route. Our position is that this option will be more effective, cost less and could be built faster. The brief was generally well-received by the groups other than the Province. They disputed both the estimated cost for the build as well as the effect on water management. They did promise to have a second look at our figures and to ‘get back to us soon’. To date there has been no update from the Province.
    There has been a startling disconnect between information coming from the meeting with the Province. They contend talks are well underway and moving in a positive direction with the four bands in the North basin. The AMC not only disputes this characterization but vows that they will not agree to more water flowing through their communities. Without agreements negotiated the channel will be dead in the water.
     I expect my elected representatives to be accessible, credible and effective. With my issue, the current government has failed. My conclusion – it is time for change.

Jack King

 

Lake Manitoba rising: April 17, 2016

The heavy rain this week is affecting everything. Inflow into Lake Manitoba from the Whitemud River jumped sharply to 741 at cfs and is rising quickly. Flow on the Waterhen River is sitting at 4,448 cfs. Outflow at Fairford rose slightly to 5,013 cfs. Flow on the Assiniboine rose to 3,389 cfs at Holland and, alarmingly, has jumped to 5,119 cfs at Headingly, and is still rising this morning.

The level of Lake Manitoba rose to 811.91 feet, up 0.16 feet from last week. This would be mainly a direct effect of the heavy rain, and to a lesser extent, stream inflows that now exceed outflow. The level of Lake St. Martin also rose and is now sitting at 800.43 feet, up 0.18 feet from last week.

River update
Time: 8:30 AM April 17, 2016
Portage Diversion: closed
Assiniboine at Holland: 3,389 cfs
Assiniboine at Headingly: 5,119 cfs
Waterhen: 4,448 cfs
Whitemud: 741 cfs
Fairford: 5,013 cfs
 
Lake update
Time: 8:30 AM April 17, 2016
Steep Rock: 811.78 ft
Westbourne: 812.04 ft
Mean level: 811.91 ft
Lake St. Martin: 800.43 ft

Lake Manitoba update: April 10, 2016

It has been a week of little change. Inflow to Lake Manitoba from the Whitemud River remained low 247 at cfs. The gauge on the Waterhen appears to be malfunctioning right now, giving very odd readings. Outflow at Fairford rose slightly to 4,871 cfs. Flow on the Assiniboine has fallen to 3,265 cfs at Holland and 2,295 cfs at Headingly. The level of Lake Manitoba rose to 811.75 feet, up 0.03 feet from last week. The level of Lake St. Martin continues to drop and is now sitting at 800.25 feet.

River update
Time: 9:30 AM April 10, 2016
Portage Diversion: closed
Assiniboine at Holland: 3,265 cfs
Assiniboine at Headingly: 2,295 cfs
Waterhen: no data
Whitemud: 247 cfs
Fairford: 4,871 cfs
 
Lake update
Time: 9:30 AM April 10, 2016
Steep Rock: 811.73 ft
Westbourne: 811.76 ft
Mean level: 811.75 ft
Lake St. Martin: 800.25 ft

Letter Sent to Party Leaders for their Position on Four Issues

ALMS has sent the following letter to the leaders of the Conservative, Liberal and New Democratic Parties for their position  on four key issues facing Lake Manitoba Stakeholders. Below is a copy of the letter sent:

Dear (Leader),

Greetings on behalf of the Association of Lake Manitoba Stakeholders(ALMS). As the election approaches, our group is asking each Party the following questions, and will post the answers received on our website, viewed by over 38,000 people, to share with our membership as well as the general public.

1) Direct Management of Lake Manitoba – With an estimated $1.5 Billion spent on the flood of 2011, and little done to stop a reoccurrence, all Manitobans are impacted by the continued issue of Lake Manitoba’s precarious state. There have been many plans and discussion, and yet as we face 2016, five years later, no solution is in place. What action will you take, if elected, and on what timelines?

2) Interprovincial Water Management – The majority of flood water impacting Manitoba, and Lake Manitoba in particular, flows from Saskatchewan and Alberta. Currently water management is a provincial matter, resulting in a tendency towards a self-centered view of water issues, and a lack of a global view. Poor water management in other provinces impacts Manitobans directly – economically, as well as impacting our provincial budgets, rural municipalities, and diverting critical resources from other provincial needs. Indirectly it destroys families, communities and our rural economy. What action will your party take to improving the management of water and flooding between provinces and on what timelines?

3) Restoration of the Damage from 2011 and 2014 – The current damage to Lake Manitoba from the floods of 2011 and 2014 have destroyed local economies, tourism, shorelines, wetland, personal property, commercial property, and farmland. What action would your party take to address these outstanding and unresolved problems and on what timelines?

4) Lower Assiniboine Management – Development has been allowed to continue along the flood prone lower Assiniboine. This has resulted in unsuspecting land purchasers being placed at risk, and further complicating the management of Assiniboine water levels. What action will your party take to address this issue and on what timelines?

If possible, could you let us know your answers by Sunday, April 10th, so that we may share your information to help our members decide their support.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Regards,

Scott Greenlay
Vice-President
Association of Lake Manitoba Stakeholders

cc: ALMS Executive, ALMS Website