AGM minutes 

The Annual Meeting of the Association of Lake Manitoba Stakeholders was held on September 28. There was representation of the communities from Grahamdale to Delta Beach and one attendee from Alonsa on the West side.
The executive will consist of Jack King (Twin Beach), Scott Greenlay (Delta Beach), Destiny Watt (Pioneer Resort), Alice Dent (Twin Beach), Don Clarkson (Delta Beach) – all entering their second of a two-year term. Harry Frederick (Sandpiper Beach) was re-elected as a Director.
Scott Greenlay shared a retrospective covering the creation of ALMS to its present work. His comprehensive report served as a reminder that the outlet is critical for the survival of our communities put in jeopardy by the overuse of the Portage Diversion and lack of capacity of the Fairford Water Control System. We have come through a period of revitalization. However, we need the strength of our organization to represent residents along the lake.
There was a report on a meeting with Minister Pedersen, Derek Johnson (Legislative Assistant) and Doug McMahon (Assistant Deputy). The government repeated its commitment to complete an outlet from Lake Manitoba by 2021 with access roads built next year. Though talks have not concluded with the affected First Nations bands, the Minister was optimistic that there would be an agreement with construction started during their first term. Having met on several occasions with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, we were pleased to hear that the elected representatives are directly involved in talks.
Mr. Pedersen acknowledged that while geo tubes are owned by municipalities that his department would communicate its opinion that they stay for the time being. In related discussion they responded to an ALMS resolution calling for government action for wave attenuation when the lake level reached 814 feet above sea level. While indicating skepticism that geo tubes could be installed in a timely fashion in response to rising lake levels, the government has agreed to study the proposal.
Dr. Scott Forbes our Science Advisor presented the two viable options for managing lake levels: a network of channels or a pumping station at Cedar Lake. We commend the government for following through with its commitment to an outlet. His assessment continues to be that the pumping option is less costly and could be built in less time than the network of channels proposed by government. The executive noted a meeting chaired by Doug McMahon last year prior to the election ended with a commitment on the government side to have a second look at their cost projections in light of the pumping briefing provided by Dr Forbes and the executive. To date we have had no follow up.
The president thanked the executive for their effort and acknowledged the time, energy and expertise of Dr. Forbes to keep members informed through his writing and elevating the discussion with government.
 

Lake Manitoba update: Oct. 30, 2016

As we are approaching winter, conditions continue to deteriorate and are setting up for high water on Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin next spring. The US NOAA Climate Prediction Centre now places the likelihood of a La Nina event developing this fall at 70%:

http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/lanina/enso_evolution-status-fcsts-web.pdf

This is significant because La Nina events mean well above average precipitation for late fall and winter in the Assiniboine and Lake Manitoba watersheds. We have already seen this in September and October, which is why both Lake Winnipegosis and Lake Manitoba have risen sharply, and flows on the Waterhen River have increased dramatically.

A La Nina event in the fall of 2010 and extending in to 2011 contributed to the flood of 2011, and an extraordinary three year La Nina event from 1954 to 1956 coincided with the three-year flood on Lake Manitoba in those years. If a La Nina develops now and persists over winter, we will likely be dealing with high water on both the Assiniboine and Lake Manitoba watersheds next spring.

Winds have been swirling this week, and during a period of north winds, which pushes water into the south end of Lake Winnipegosis, flows on the Waterhen River rose above 10,000 cfs. The winds this morning are WSW and Waterhen flows have settled back to 9,425 cfs, which is very high for this time of year.

High Waterhen flows and more rain have pushed the level of Lake Manitoba up sharply this week to 812.67 feet, up about a quarter foot from last week. This is significant because the lake is now above the upper end of its operating range of 812.5 feet. With rising levels of Lake Manitoba, outflow through Fairford has risen to 6,989 cfs. Lake St. Martin continues to rise, sitting currently at 801.21 feet. Flow on the Whitemud is up also with more rain to 381 cfs. The net inflow to Lake Manitoba is about 3,000 cfs meaning the lake will rise about 2 inches a month if it remains dry. If we get more rain, the lake will rise faster, as it did this week.

Flow on the Assiniboine is very high for this time of year, sitting at 4,448 cfs at Holland and 5,154 cfs downstream at Headingly. This is about four times the average flow for the end of October

River update
Time: 7:00 AM October 30, 2016
Portage Diversion: closed
Assiniboine at Holland: 4,448 cfs
Assiniboine at Headingly: 5,154 cfs
Waterhen: 9,425 cfs
Whitemud: 381 cfs
Fairford: 6,989 cfs
 
Lake update
Time: 7:00 AM October 30, 2016
Steep Rock: 812.29 ft
Westbourne: 813.06 ft
Mean level: 812.67 ft
Lake St. Martin: 801.21 ft
Lake Winnipegosis: 833.33 ft

Lake Manitoba update: Oct. 23, 2016

Conditions as we approach winter are setting up for high water on Lake Manitoba next spring. Upstream, Lake Winnipegosis at 833.33 feet is flooding and at near record level for this time of year, more than three above average. That in turn is generating very high flows on the Waterhen River (9,107 cfs). The average flow this time of year is about 3,800 cfs. As a consequence, Lake Manitoba continues to rise and has reached 812.40 feet this morning. Outflow at Fairford has risen slightly, currently 6,354 cfs. Flow on the Whitemud is up with the rain to 314 cfs. The net inflow to Lake Manitoba is about 3,000 cfs meaning the lake will rise about 2 inches a month if it remains dry. If we get more rain, the lake will rise faster.

Lake St. Martin is rising quickly, up three tenths of a foot this week to 801.15 feet. It is above the desired operating range of 797.0 to 800.0 feet but below flood level of 803.0 feet.

Flow on the upper Assiniboine is now falling, sitting at 4,060 cfs at Holland but still high at 5,401 cfs downstream at Headingly.

River update
Time: 8:00 AM October 23, 2016
Portage Diversion: closed
Assiniboine at Holland: 4,060 cfs
Assiniboine at Headingly: 5,401 cfs
Waterhen: 9,107 cfs
Whitemud: 314 cfs
Fairford: 6,354 cfs
 
Lake update
Time: 8:00 AM October 23, 2016
Steep Rock: 812.11 ft
Westbourne: 812.71 ft
Mean level: 812.40 ft
Lake St. Martin: 801.15 ft
Lake Winnipegosis: 833.33 ft

Lake Manitoba update: Oct. 16, 2016

Things have grown incrementally worse since the last week. I am using lake levels from midnight last night when the winds were relatively calm. Lake Manitoba has risen one seventh of a foot from last week and is now sitting at 812.34 feet. Flow on the Waterhen has risen to 8,754 cfs, up from 8,296 cfs last week. Outflow at Fairford is unchanged from last week at 6,001 cfs. Flow on the Whitemud is down slightly to 229 cfs. The net inflow to Lake Manitoba is about 3,000 cfs meaning the lake will rise about 2 inches a month if it remains dry. If we get more rain, the lake will rise faster.

Lake St. Martin was up this week to 800.89 feet from 800.75 feet last week, and is above the desired operating range of 797.0 to 800.0 feet.

Flow on the Assiniboine rose sharply over the week and is now sitting at 4,413 cfs at Holland and 5,401 cfs at Headingly. The flow at Holland peaked yesterday and is now falling, while flow downstream at Headingly is still rising. It should drop later this week as upstream flows decline.

As noted in last week’s update, conditions on Lake Winnipegosis, Lake Manitoba and the Waterhen River are as bad or worse than in mid-October 2010 in the run-up to the flood of 2011.

River update
Time: 12:30 PM October 16, 2016
Portage Diversion: closed
Assiniboine at Holland: 4,413 cfs
Assiniboine at Headingly: 5,401 cfs
Waterhen: 8,754 cfs
Whitemud: 229 cfs
Fairford: 6,001 cfs
 
Lake update
Time: 12:30 PM October 16, 2016
Steep Rock: 812.04 ft
Westbourne: 812.63 ft
Mean level: 812.34 ft
Lake St. Martin: 800.89 ft

Important Update on Lake Manitoba As of Oct. 9, 2016

One does not like to be the bearer of bad news but events upstream of Lake Manitoba are looking ominous, a bit like the beginning of any disaster movie involving earthquakes, asteroids, volcanoes, or the just end of the earth. Except in this case it is floods. If I were in charge of our water control structures (and I most certainly am not), I would be recommending opening the Lake St. Martin Emergency Channel so that outflows at Fairford can be maintained at their maximum level over winter to avert flooding on Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin over winter / next spring. That was the original reason for building the Emergency Channel.

The heavy rains in the last week have caused a sharp increase in the level of Lake Winnipegosis and flow on the Waterhen River has risen from just over 6,000 cfs at the beginning of September to about 8,300 cfs today. To put this in context, Lake Winnipegosis is now nearly three feet above its long-term average level for October, and is now equal to it maximum ever observed October level.

That is very bad news for Lake Manitobans. This is exactly what preceded the flood of 2011. In 2011, half of the water that flooded our lake came through the Portage Diversion, but the other half came from historically high flows on the Waterhen River.

The heavy rain coupled to high flows on the Waterhen have resulted in a sharp rise in Lake Manitoba this week – it is up more than a quarter foot over the week to 812.20 feet. The winds are relatively calm so the gauges readings should be reliable.

What this means is if October remains wet, it is likely the lake will rise above the level it was as in the fall of 2010: we will likely reach the same level as Lake Manitoba in 2010 in the next week. In 2010, flows at Fairford were reduced over winter causing the level of Lake Manitoba to rise from November to February. The lake sat at 812.79 feet on April 1, 2011, leaving no freeboard for inflows from the Portage Diversion starting soon after.

Inflow from the Waterhen River (8,296 cfs) is now well in excess of the outflow on the Fairford River (6,001 cfs). Flow on the Whitemud also rose this week to 300 cfs, which is very high for this time of year. The net inflow to the lake is 2,600 cfs which will cause the lake to rise 2 inches a month in the absence of rain – heavy rains will cause the lake to rise much faster, as happened over the last week.

The level of Lake St. Martin is also up by half a foot this week to 800.75 feet. People at the Forks will be unhappy as flows on the Assiniboine rose sharply this week. Flow on the Assiniboine at Holland rose about 1,400 cfs to 3,283 cfs. Downstream at Headingly, the Assiniboine flow is also up sharply to 3,354 cfs. Assiniboine flows are currently three times their average flow for this time of year. A bit of good news is that Assiniboine flows in 2010 were higher, between 5,000 and 7,000 cfs in October.

River update
Time: 8:30 AM October 9, 2016
Portage Diversion: closed
Assiniboine at Holland: 3,283 cfs
Assiniboine at Headingly: 3,354 cfs
Waterhen: 8,296 cfs
Whitemud: 300 cfs
Fairford: 6,001 cfs
 
Lake update
Time: 8:30 AM October 9, 2016
Steep Rock: 811.98 ft
Westbourne: 812.43 ft
Mean level: 812.20 ft
Lake St. Martin: 800.75 ft

Province issues flood watch due to heavy rain 

The Hydrologic Forecast Centre of Manitoba Infrastructure reports a major storm system has moved into southwest, western, northern and northeast Manitoba including areas along the Duck Mountains, Swan River, The Pas, the north portions of Lake Manitoba and Lake Winnipeg.Since Monday, between 70 to 100 millimetres of rain (2.8 to four inches) has already fallen on the western and southwest part of the province including the Riding Mountain area, Virden and Dauphin area. An additional 10 to 20 mm is expected later today.

Based on the latest Environment and Climate Change Canada weather forecast, the maximum amount of rain will fall along the north end of Lake Manitoba and Lake Winnipeg including The Pas. This area could receive between 80 to 120 mm of rain (three to 4.5 in.). Swan River area already received between 20 and 30 mm of rain and will receive an additional 30 to 50 mm (one to two in.).

This precipitation system, on top of the already saturated ground, could cause overland flooding within these areas. Overbank flows are expected on some streams and drains

Lake Manitoba update: Oct. 2, 2016

The level of Lake Manitoba rose this week to 811.93 feet as inflow from the Waterhen (6,778 cfs) exceeds the outflow via Fairford (6,072 cfs). High water on Lake Winnipegosis is keeping Waterhen flows high going into the fall which in turn is keeping Lake Manitoba high. Flow on the Whitemud rose this week to 177 cfs. The level of Lake St. Martin is up to 800.23 feet. Flow on the Assiniboine at Holland rose slightly to 1,818cfs. Downstream at Headingly, the Assiniboine flow is 2,083 cfs.

River update
Time: 5:30 PM October 2, 2016
Portage Diversion: closed
Assiniboine at Holland: 1,818 cfs
Assiniboine at Headingly: 2,083 cfs
Waterhen: 6,778 cfs
Whitemud: 177 cfs
Fairford: 6,072 cfs
 
Lake update
Time: 5:30 PM October 2, 2016
Steep Rock: 811.98 ft
Westbourne: 811.88 ft
Mean level: 811.93 ft
Lake St. Martin: 800.23 ft