Lake Manitoba update: April 29, 2018

It was an eventful week. The Portage Diversion was opened briefly to prevent ice jamming on the lower Assiniboine and then closed. It was opened Monday evening and closed by Thursday morning. The amount of water reaching Lake Manitoba was a relative trickle that will have no material effect on the level of Lake Manitoba: ~0.01 feet for the duration of the opening. What is affecting the level of Lake Manitoba is the overland snowmelt and rising flow on the creeks and rivers, and in particular the Waterhen River where the flow now exceeds outflow at Fairford. Lake Manitoba has risen this week to 811.71 feet, up 0.07 feet on the week. Flow on the Waterhen River nearly doubled this week reaching 6,145 cfs. Flow on the Whitemud River is also up to 918 cfs. Outflow at Fairford also rose with the rising lake level and has now reached 5,333 cfs. The level of Lake St. Martin continues to drop and is now 800.59 feet. Lake Winnipegosis is down slightly to 832.25 feet, remaining roughly two feet above its long-term average level.

Flow on the Assiniboine rose sharply this week and crested at Portage on Friday: the flow is 8,652 cfs at Holland and 8,299 cfs at Headingly. This is roughly the level of flow where there begins to be some leakage through the dikes on the lower Assiniboine. Flow on the Assiniboine is being managed aggressively by the Province as water is being held back in the Shellmouth Reservoir. The reservoir rose to 1395.4 feet, up nearly five feet on the week. This has reduced flows on the Assiniboine and also the need to use the Portage Diversion.

River update
Time: 7:45 AM April 29, 2018
Portage Diversion: closed
Assiniboine at Holland: 8,652 cfs
Assiniboine at Headingly: 8,299 cfs
Waterhen: 6,145 cfs
Whitemud: 918 cfs
Fairford: 5,333 cfs

Lake update
Time: 7:45 AM April 29, 2018
Steep Rock: 811.73 ft
Westbourne: 811.68 ft
Mean level Lake Manitoba: 811.71 ft
Lake Manitoba desired operating range: 810.5 to 812.5 ft
Lake St. Martin: 800.70 ft
Lake St. Martin desired operating range: 797.0 to 800.0 ft
Lake Winnipegosis: 832.25 ft
Shellmouth Reservoir: 1395.33 ft

ALMS Writes the Prime Minister

Good morning everyone,

Below is a copy of the Letter ALMS sent to the Prime Minister urging an expedited Environmental Review process so that work on the Outlet can begin as soon as possible:

Dear Prime Minister,

I am writing to you on behalf of the Lake Manitoba Stakeholders Association. We represent the approximately 7,000 people who live around Lake Manitoba.

We have asked all our members to write to you as well.

Our request is simple. We seek an expedited Environmental Review process for the following reasons:

1) Extensive consultation via more than 60 meetings with impacted parties has already taken place via the Government of Manitoba;

2) Extensive environmental engineering has already been undertaken by one of Canada’s preeminent engineer firms and been reviewed by our constituents, as well as the Government of Manitoba’s own fisheries, wildlife, and water stewardship organizations; and

3) The previous government committed to us (the Citizens) that the process would be expedited.

From our perspective, work on the “drain” must begin immediately. We are a rainstorm (or snowstorm) away from a repeat of the 2011 and 2014 flood disasters which impacted so many.
Recall that in 2011, the flood forced 7,100 Manitobans to be displaced from their homes, some for more than six years, affected three million hectares of farmland, crippled farmers ability to grow crops for years, led ranchers to move thousands of livestock and triggered the closure of 850 roads. It cost over $1.5 Billion. Families, livelihoods, and lives were destroyed.

We are calling for immediate action for the already planned and designed outlet to be built – you can help.

We respectfully urge the Federal Government to direct for an emergent, expedited environmental review so that protection can begin immediately. It makes no sense to complete an extended Environment Assessment that replicates the work already done. In an era which desperately needs to see more Federal-Provincial cooperation, we ask that you direct your Government to take immediate action and expediate, not extend, the environmental review process. It is still an emergency.  We have already seen over 60 consultations with our first nations peoples, our communities, our businesses, and our farmers. There has been extensive environmental analysis. Fisheries have been considered, water quality have been considered. Extensive analysis by engineers has been completed. It is time for action.

Mr. Prime Minister, our lives and livelihoods sit in your hands. Please don’t let us down.

Respectfully,

Scott Greenlay
Vice-President
Association of Lake Manitoba Stakeholders

cc: Premier of Manitoba, Minister Wishart, Derek Johnson, MLA
Minister Carr, James Bezan, MP, Candace Bergen, MP, Robert Sopuck, MP

Reminder: Your Emails needed today to help speed the building of the Drain

Fellow Lake Manitobans,

Our Premier is meeting with the Prime Minister in Ottawa next week and Lake Manitoba is one of the key topics of discussion.

The Federal Government is considering a two-year environmental impact assessment before permitting the Lake Manitoba Drain to be built. According to our Premier, to date there have been over 60 consultations, some of the most extensive environmental assessment work ever undertaken by our Province. In addition, we are 12 weeks away from a major rain or snow event re-creating the horrific 2011 $1.5B event. The Government of Manitoba believes it is “emergent” that the Drain be built and is working to ask the Federal Government to reduce the environmental assessment process. To do this, your voice would help. Below is the contact information and a letter you can use to express your support.

Once the environmental assessment is approved by the federal government, the channel can start being dug. It will take two years to complete. Work has already started on building road access, but we need the environmental assessment completed before the digging can start.

ACTION NEEDED BY WEDNESDAY. YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!!!

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Send your Email to :

Minister Wishart at ian.wishart@leg.gov.mb.ca who has agreed to gather all letters and send with the Premier to Ottawa.

For those living in the Interlake, please also include derek.johnson@leg.gov.mb.ca

You can also send an email to:
Federal Minister Responsible for Manitoba: Jim.Carr@parl.gc.ca
The Prime Minister of Canada: justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca

Some ideas for your Email:

Subject: Lake Manitoba Flood Control Project – Please reduce the Federal Government Environmental Review time – We are in Danger

Dear Prime Minister,

As you know in 2011 and 2014, we the Citizens of Canada who live around Lake Manitoba were decimated by horrific floods. These floods waters were largely caused by water sent to us from Alberta and Saskatchewan. We were sacrificed to save others. But today, we still are not safe.

In 2011, the flood forced 7,100 Manitobans to be displaced from their homes, some for more than six years, affected three million hectares of farmland, crippled farmers ability to grow crops for years, led ranchers to move thousands of livestock and triggered the closure of 850 roads. It cost over $1.5 Billion. Families, livelihoods, and lives were destroyed.

We are still in danger. Today we still do not have a flood outlet on Lake Manitoba. A series of storms would quickly put us back to 2011 again.

We are calling for immediate action for the already planned and designed outlet to be built – you can help.

We respectfully urge the Federal Government to direct for an emergent, expedited environmental review so that protection can begin immediately. It makes no sense to complete an extended Environment Assessment that replicates the work already done. In an era which desperately needs to see more Federal-Provincial cooperation, we ask that you direct your Government to take immediate action and expediate, not extend, the environmental review process. It is still an emergency.  We have already seen over 60 consultations with our first nations peoples, our communities, our businesses, and our farmers. There has been extensive environmental analysis. Fisheries have been considered, water quality have been considered. Extensive analysis by engineers has been completed. It is time for action.

Mr. Prime Minister, our lives and livelihoods sit in your hands. Please don’t let us down.

Respectfully,

(your name)

Portage Diversion update for 26 April

The gauges are showing that flow in the Diversion was reduced to zero overnight. Flow downstream on the Assiniboine is currently about 5200 cfs. More water is headed toward Portage, however, as flow upstream at Holland has reached 9,100 cfs. But behind that are lower flows, with the gauge at Brandon currently levelling off at about 6,000 cfs – flow in the Souris, that joins the Assiniboine east of Brandon, remains low, below 400 cfs.

Portage Diversion update 25 April 2018

The Portage Diversion is currently open with a flow of about 2,500 cfs into Lake Manitoba this morning. Flow on the lower Assiniboine is being held below 5,000 cfs as the Province earlier indicated they would do to prevent ice jamming. The good news is that water is now being held back in the Shellmouth Reservoir, and as a consequence, Assiniboine flows downstream at Russell, St. Lazare and Brandon have peaked (for now) and are falling. This helps Lake Manitobans as it reduces the need to use the Diversion and also helps to reduce flow on the lower Assiniboine.

Portage Diversion update

PORTAGE DIVERSION UPDATE at 7:45 PM 24 April: The gauge in the diversion channel is now active and showing a flow of about 2,500 cfs being sent to Lake Manitoba. It looks like water started flowing in the channel mid afternoon today.

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Assiniboine Rivers flows have this morning reached 3,500 cfs at Portage; upstream, flows on the Assiniboine at Brandon are 7,000 cfs and rising. The gauge at Holland has been offline for the last day. The level of the Portage Reservoir is rising, a step that usually precedes an opening of the Portage Diversion. The gauge showing flows in the Diversion channel has not yet been activated this year.

Now an update to the update: the RM of Portage has indicated that the Portage Diversion was opened as of 4:00 PM yesterday, and will be used to keep flows in the lower Assiniboine below 5,000 cfs to avoid ice jamming.

Lake Manitoba update: April 22, 2018

Spring is now here as river flows are rising rapidly and for the first time, there are wind effects on the lakes. Lake Manitoba rose slightly this week and will continue rising as the snowmelt accelerates. The current level is 811.64 feet up 0.01 feet from last week. Fairford flows are now rising and are up to 5,032 cfs. Inflow from the Waterhen River is rising rapidly and has reached 3,779 cfs. Flow on the Whitemud River is also up this week to 660 cfs. The level of Lake St. Martin continues to drop quickly and is now 800.70 feet. Lake Winnipegosis is down to 832.28 feet and remains roughly two feet above its long-term average level. Flow on the Assiniboine is rising quickly and is now 3,178 cfs at Holland and 2,472 cfs at Headingly. The Shellmouth Reservoir continued to drop to this week is now 1,390.91 feet. There was an uptick, however, in the reservoir level in the last 24 h.

The Portage Diversion currently remains closed, but the Province has indicated that it will be opened to prevent ice jamming on the lower Assiniboine. The flood update from the Province this week reported:

“The Portage Diversion could start operation in the week of April 23 for ice control along the lower Assiniboine River. Flows along the Assiniboine River at Portage la Prairie could reach just over 20,000 cfs, which would require the use of the Portage Diversion to limit the downstream flow to 12,000 cfs. The Shellmouth Dam will continue operations to reach summer levels after the spring run-off.”

River update
Time: 8:15 AM April 22, 2018
Portage Diversion: closed
Assiniboine at Holland: 3,178 cfs
Assiniboine at Headingly: 2,472 cfs
Waterhen: 3,779 cfs
Whitemud: 660 cfs
Fairford: 5,032 cfs

Lake update
Time: 8:15 AM April 22, 2018
Steep Rock: 811.65 ft
Westbourne: 811.63 ft
Mean level Lake Manitoba: 811.64 ft
Lake Manitoba desired operating range: 810.5 to 812.5 ft