Message from President of ALMS

The RM of St Laurent is drafting a resolution for an upcoming Association of Manitoba Municipalities meeting. Such action casts St Laurent in a leadership role for municipalities and makes it significant that it comes from one of the RMs most devastated by the 2011 flood.

It would be unfortunate to conclude that lobbying for the proposed channels should be less important given this year’s flood forecast. We all know how slowly the wheels of government turn and loosing momentum now will no doubt embolden the Province in its plan to delay completion of the project. The fact is that without the channels we are vulnerable to high water. Last year for example we were a storm away from potential flooding.

Adding to our vulnerability is that the Portage Diversion has enhanced capacity to 34,000 cfs since the flood of 2011. Lake Winnipegosis is currently in a cycle of historic highwater levels which taxes the Fairford Water Control System.

The effectiveness of lobbying is amplified when other groups are supporting similar positions. In this instance the Association of Lake Manitoba Stakeholders (ALMS) is ready willing and able to support the effort of other RMs or groups. We will continue to the share our activities and invite members and others to add their voice.

Our focus has always been on completion of the channel system in Lake St Martin and Lake Manitoba to allow water levels to be effectively managed. We are lobbying the Province to express our dissatisfaction with under-funding in the current budget – $100 million was promised but $70 million delivered.

We want to note the broken promise of a completion of the project in the fourth quarter of 2021 – now moved back four years! A one-year environmental assessment had been included in the old timeline. Because the Canadian Environmental Agency conducts it own assessment it may add one year to the promised completion date of 2021. The assessment process does not get us to a four-year delay.

The Globe and Mail reports that Ottawa will not meet the pledge half the funding of the channel project in October 2017. Other than “soon” there is no revised date for signed bilateral agreements. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-ottawa-will-miss-march-deadline-to-have-phase-2-infrastructure-deals/

We will continue to work with the Province to hold the Federal Government to its promise.

While supporting the Provincial government we do fear is that the longer timeline supports the Provincial agenda to bring down debt by spreading costs over a longer time, in this case on the backs of those who have made their homes and livelihood along the lake.

Jack King

President, ALMS

Lake Manitoba update: March 25, 2018

The level of Lake Manitoba is down further this week to 811.71 feet, and with the falling lake level, outflow at Fairford is also down to 5,209 cfs. Inflow from the Waterhen River is starting to rise and is now 1,995 cfs. Flow on the Whitemud is up to 117 cfs. The level of Lake St. Martin is down this week to 801.60 feet. Lake Winnipegosis fell to 832.32 feet and remains roughly two feet above its long-term average level. Flow on the Assiniboine rose to 625 cfs at Holland and 562 cfs at Headingly. The Shellmouth Reservoir is down this week to 1,394.72 feet.

River update
Time: 8:30 AM March 25, 2018
Portage Diversion: closed
Assiniboine at Holland: 625 cfs
Assiniboine at Headingly: 562 cfs
Waterhen: 1,995 cfs
Whitemud: 117 cfs
Fairford: 5,209 cfs

Lake update
Time: 8:30 AM March 25, 2018
Steep Rock: 811.71 ft
Westbourne: 811.72 ft
Mean level Lake Manitoba: 811.71 ft
Lake Manitoba desired operating range: 810.5 to 812.5 ft
Lake St. Martin: 801.60 feet
Lake St. Martin desired operating range: 797.0 to 800.0 ft
Lake Winnipegosis: 832.32 ft
Shellmouth Reservoir: 1394.72 ft

Lake Manitoba update: March 18, 2018

With the dry weather, the level of Lake Manitoba is down this week to 811.77 feet, and with the falling lake level, outflow at Fairford is also down to 5,403 cfs. Inflow from the Waterhen River also fell and is now 1,907 cfs. Flow on the Whitemud rose to 104 cfs. The gauge on Lake St. Martin is currently offline. Lake Winnipegosis rose to 832.40 feet and remains roughly two feet above its long-term average level. Flow on the Assiniboine is 484 cfs at Holland. The gauge at Headingly is currently malfunctioning. The Shellmouth Reservoir is down substantially this week at 1,395.34 feet.

River update
Time: 8:45 AM March 18, 2018
Portage Diversion: closed
Assiniboine at Holland: 484 cfs
Assiniboine at Headingly: gauge malfunctioning
Waterhen: 1,907 cfs
Whitemud: 104 cfs
Fairford: 5,403 cfs

Lake update
Time: 8:45 AM March 18, 2018
Steep Rock: 811.76 ft
Westbourne: 811.78 ft
Mean level Lake Manitoba: 811.77 ft
Lake Manitoba desired operating range: 810.5 to 812.5 ft
Lake St. Martin: gauge offline
Lake St. Martin desired operating range: 797.0 to 800.0 ft
Lake Winnipegosis: 832.40 ft
Shellmouth Reservoir: 1395.34 ft

Message from the Association of Lake Manitoba Stakeholders

To: Ron Schuler, Minister of Infrastructure and Derek Johnson, MLA

I read with concern the Winnipeg Free Press article yesterday, where the government made the announcement, concerning the Lake Manitoba channel, that the “best-case scenario, all the work will be done by 2025…” It is important to note that the premier made a commitment that the new channel would be completed by 2021. It is also fair to say that the Minister made the case for urgency citing increased flows and damage resulting.

There is some reference to environmental issues and consultation. Frankly, the song is familiar and getting old. Consultations have been on-going since the flood of 2011. One wonders what new information will come out of future meetings. Ours is a reasonable position on an environmental review. We concur that it be done but also ask for an expedited process given the number of meetings and reports generated from consultations.

Patience of our members who reside along the shores of the Lake is being tested once again. We have participated in good faith with government. However, it is no surprise that this announcement will turn frustration to anger. I would like to point out to Minister Schuler that our communities suffered devasting losses of homes, property and land in the flood of 2011 and to a lesser extent 2014. Representing this devastation as a loss of cottages is an unfair characterization to farmers, ranchers and home owners. The restoration of the communities that the Association of Lake Manitoba Stakeholders represents contributions of significant time, energy and finances. The leadership of local government and individual property owners should be commended – not diminished.

The floods devastated communities. Mass evacuations, displacement and heartache were part of the after-effects of the events whether reserve or non-reserve land. Our organization has repeatedly stressed that we wanted a solution that would not merely move the problem to another region. The language used in the article unfortunately divides us at a time when action is required to prevent future damage.

In recent conversations, it was apparent that the involvement of the federal government might add to the timeline implying an extension of a year. Now we are told it will result in a four-year delay or more accurately delaying action for fourteen years from the year of the first flood!

We are left wondering and asking – if this is the best-case scenario, what is the worst?

Sincerely,

Jack King

President – Association of Lake Manitoba Stakeholders (ALMS)

Lake Manitoba update: March 11, 2018

The Colorado Low that hit us last week reversed the trend of declining levels and flows. The level of Lake Manitoba rose this week to 811.81 feet. With the rising lake level, outflow at Fairford rose to 5,686 cfs. Inflow from the Waterhen River also rose and is now 2,119 cfs. Flow on the Whitemud rose to 94 cfs. Lake St. Martin fell to 801.93 feet. Lake Winnipegosis is down slightly to 832.30 feet. Flow on the Assiniboine is 417 cfs at Holland. The gauge at Headingly is currently registering zero flow which I assume is a gauge error The Shellmouth Reservoir is almost unchanged this week at 1,395.80 feet.

The level of Lake Winnipegosis remains roughly two feet above its long-term average level and will continue to keep Lake Manitoba high this year. Until the level of Lake Winnipegosis declines (it’s been above its long-term average level for the last decade), we are not going to see the lower lake levels on Lake Manitoba necessary to provide the freeboard to prevent flooding when the Portage Diversion is opened. This is going to become increasingly important, as the results of a 5-year hydrological study at the University of Saskatchewan indicate that what we saw in 2011 and 2014 is now the new normal:

https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/expect-more-rain-floods-as-part-of-climate-change-experts-476079923.html

Changing circulation patterns are resulting in more moisture being pumped north from the Gulf of Mexico, contributing to Assiniboine flooding in 2011 and 2014 and the 2013 Calgary flood. The hydrologists find that we will see more precipitation in fall, winter and spring, resulting in a greatly elevated risk of flooding in the Assiniboine basin and elsewhere.

With Assiniboine flooding becoming more frequent, and the Portage Diversion now expanded to carry 35,000 cfs into Lake Manitoba (10,000 cfs above its original design capacity), and no additional outflow capacity on Lake Manitoba available to carry that water away, the risk of future flood events on Lake Manitoba, as we saw in 2011-12 and 2014, remains very high.

River update
Time: 08:30 AM March 11, 2018
Portage Diversion: closed
Assiniboine at Holland: 417 cfs
Assiniboine at Headingly: gauge error
Waterhen: 2,119 cfs
Whitemud: 94 cfs
Fairford: 5,686 cfs

Lake update
Time: 08:30 AM March 11, 2018
Steep Rock: 811.80 ft
Westbourne: 811.81 ft
Mean level Lake Manitoba: 811.81 ft
Lake Manitoba desired operating range: 810.5 to 812.5 ft
Lake St. Martin: 801.93
Lake St. Martin desired operating range: 797.0 to 800.0 ft
Lake Winnipegosis: 832.30 ft
Shellmouth Reservoir: 1395.80 ft

Lake Manitoba update: March 4, 2018

It has been another week of slow and steady change. The level of Lake Manitoba continues to fall and is now 811.79 feet. As the lake level falls, so does the outflow at Fairford, which is now 5,191 cfs. Inflow from the Waterhen River is also falling and is now 2,084 cfs. The gauge on the Whitemud is back up and is registering 43 cfs. Lake St. Martin fell slightly to 802.02 feet. Lake Winnipegosis is up this week to 832.38 feet. Flow on the Assiniboine is 671 cfs at Holland and 643 cfs at Headingly. The Shellmouth Reservoir is unchanged this week at 1,395.79 feet.

River update
Time: 08:30 AM March 4, 2018
Portage Diversion: closed
Assiniboine at Holland: 671 cfs
Assiniboine at Headingly: 643 cfs
Waterhen: 2,084 cfs
Whitemud: 43 cfs
Fairford: 5,191 cfs

Lake update
Time: 08:30 AM March 4, 2018
Steep Rock: 811.74 ft
Westbourne: 811.84 ft
Mean level Lake Manitoba: 811.79 ft
Lake Manitoba desired operating range: 810.5 to 812.5 ft
Lake St. Martin: 802.02
Lake St. Martin desired operating range: 797.0 to 800.0 ft
Lake Winnipegosis: 832.38 ft
Shellmouth Reservoir: 1395.79 ft