Lake Manitoba update: July 16, 2018

Strong winds are playing havoc with water levels and river flows, so take this week’s report with more than just a grain of salt. The average gauge reading on Lake Manitoba is currently 811.55 feet. Wind is driving water into the south of Lake Winnipegosis, raising its level (833.76 feet) and flow on the Waterhen River (6851 cfs). Outflow at Fairford is also wind-affected and registering low, at 3,991 cfs. That will rise when the winds subside. The level of Lake St. Martin has reached an historic mark: it is currently 800.00 feet (and is probably below that – the gauge reading is wind-affected). This marks the first time in a very long time that Lake St. Martin has reached the top end of its operating range (800.0 0 feet). I will do a little digging to check the last time that it reached this level and will report back. Flow on the Assiniboine was affected by rain last week and is currently 3,002 cfs at Holland and 2,896 cfs at Headingly. The Shellmouth Reservoir is down this week to to 1403.15 feet.

River update
Time: 9:00 AM July 16, 2018
Portage Diversion: closed
Assiniboine at Holland: 3,002 cfs
Assiniboine at Headingly: 2,896 cfs
Waterhen: 6,851 cfs
Whitemud: 71 cfs
Fairford: 3,991 cfs
 
Lake update
Time: 9:00 AM July 16, 2018
Steep Rock: 811.55 ft
Westbourne: 811.55 ft
Mean level Lake Manitoba: 811.55
Lake Manitoba desired operating range: 810.5 to 812.5 ft
Lake St. Martin: 800.00 ft
Lake St. Martin desired operating range: 797.0 to 800.0 ft
Lake Winnipegosis: 833.76 ft
Shellmouth Reservoir: 1403.15 ft

Lake Manitoba update: July 8, 2018

Last week’s estimate of the lake level was wind affected and too low. This week’s estimate looks more reliable with the two gauges showing similar readings. The current estimate of the level of Lake Manitoba is 811.81 feet. It appears the lake has risen with the recent rains. Inflow on the Waterhen River remains high at 6,498 cfs. This is well above the long-term average flow of 4,800 cfs for early July. The high continuing high inflow from the Waterhen River (due to a high level of Lake Winnipegosis) is keeping the level of Lake Manitoba from declining further. Outflow at Fairford is 5,898 cfs this morning. Flow on the Whitemud River has dropped to 167 cfs. The level of Lake Winnipegosis is currently 832.82 feet, unchanged from last week. The level of Lake St. Martin is down this week to 800.03 feet. The flow on the Assiniboine continues to fall and is currently 2,779 cfs at Holland and 2,278 cfs at Headingly. The Shellmouth Reservoir is down this week to to 1403.44 feet.

River update
Time: 9:30 AM July 8, 2018
Portage Diversion: closed
Assiniboine at Holland: 2,779 cfs
Assiniboine at Headingly: 2,278 cfs
Waterhen: 6,498 cfs
Whitemud: 167 cfs
Fairford: 5,898 cfs
 
Lake update
Time: 9:30 AM July 8, 2018
Steep Rock: 811.78 ft
Westbourne: 812.84 ft
Mean level Lake Manitoba: 811.81
Lake Manitoba desired operating range: 810.5 to 812.5 ft
Lake St. Martin: 800.03 ft
Lake St. Martin desired operating range: 797.0 to 800.0 ft
Lake Winnipegosis: 832.84 ft
Shellmouth Reservoir: 1403.44 ft

Lake Manitoba update: July 2, 2018

Strong west winds are shifting water on Lake Manitoba making the estimate of the lake level a bit suspect: the current estimate of the level of Lake Manitoba this morning is 811.49 feet. Inflow on the Waterhen River remains high at 6,533 cfs, while outflow at Fairford has risen to 6,251 cfs. Flow on the Whitemud River rose sharply with the recent rain to 205 cfs. The level of Lake Winnipegosis is currently 832.82 feet, remaining above its long term average level. The level of Lake St. Martin is down this wek to 800.16 feet. The flow on the Assiniboine continues to fall and is currently 2,802 cfs at Holland and 2,684 cfs at Headingly. The Shellmouth Reservoir is down this week to to 1403.74 feet.

River update
Time: 8:30 AM July 2, 2018
Portage Diversion: closed
Assiniboine at Holland: 2,802 cfs
Assiniboine at Headingly: 2,64 cfs
Waterhen: 6,533 cfs
Whitemud: 205 cfs
Fairford: 6,251 cfs
 
Lake update
Time: 8:30 AM July 2, 2018
Steep Rock: 811.71 ft
Westbourne: 812.27 ft
Mean level Lake Manitoba: 811.49
Lake Manitoba desired operating range: 810.5 to 812.5 ft
Lake St. Martin: 800.16 ft
Lake St. Martin desired operating range: 797.0 to 800.0 ft
Lake Winnipegosis: 832.84 ft
Shellmouth Reservoir: 1403.74 ft

Lake Manitoba update: June 24, 2018

Shifting winds are playing havoc with the gauges on Lake Manitoba, with east winds this morning driving water away from the Steep Rock gauge and toward the Westbourne gauge. The current estimate of the level of Lake Manitoba this morning is 811.76 feet, but it was lower than that yesterday (811.71 ft) when the winds were relatively calm. Flow on the Waterhen River remains high at 6,427 cfs. The level of Lake Winnipegosis is currently 832.45 feet, a level that is also wind affected. Flow at Fairford is down to 5,297 cfs, but that too is wind affected and will rise once the winds shift back to their normal northwesterly direction. Flow on the Whitemud River is now down to 78 cfs. The level of Lake St. Martin is unchanged at 800.26 feet. The flow on the Assiniboine is falling and is currently 3,390 at Holland and 3,602 cfs at Headingly. The Shellmouth Reservoir is down this week to to 1404.43 feet.

River update
Time: 7:00 AM June 24, 2018
Portage Diversion: closed
Assiniboine at Holland: 3,390 cfs
Assiniboine at Headingly: 3,602 cfs
Waterhen: 6,427 cfs
Whitemud: 78 cfs
Fairford: 5,297 cfs
 
Lake update
Time: 7:00 AM June 24, 2018
Steep Rock: 811.71 ft
Westbourne: 812.81 ft
Mean level Lake Manitoba: 811.76
Lake Manitoba desired operating range: 810.5 to 812.5 ft
Lake St. Martin: 800.26 ft
Lake St. Martin desired operating range: 797.0 to 800.0 ft
Lake Winnipegosis: 832.45 ft
Shellmouth Reservoir: 1404.43 ft

Province and Feds agree to fund the Channels

Today, standing at the edge of Lake Manitoba, with media and a large crowd present, the Premier and Federal Minister JimCarr announced the formal commitment of funds to build the Channels. The Channels will drain Lake Manitoba of water sent to it by the Assiniboine River via the Portage Diversion. The Diversion was built in the early 1970’s as part of a program to protect Winnipeg from flooding, but no action was taken at that time to deal with the devastating impact the Diversion would have on people outside Winnipeg – farmers, businesses, aboriginals and citizens located downstream of the Diversion. 

 The governments of Canada and Manitoba will cost share up to $540 million in new flood management infrastructure for the Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin outlet channels, Premier Brian Pallister and Jim Carr, Minister of Natural Resources Canada, on behalf of the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, announced today. Federal funding of $247.5 million will be provided for the Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin Outlet Channels Project, the first project to be funded under the recently launched Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund. Manitoba will provide matching funds in the amount of $247.5 million, plus an additional $45 million in order to complete the project. 

“After 60 years of inaction, we are proud to stand today alongside our partners in the federal government to announce this vital project,” said Pallister. “We are focused on completing this project in a timely fashion to better protect Manitobans who have sacrificed so much.” 

The governments of Canada and Manitoba identified the channels project as a major priority, due to severe flooding in the area in 2011 and 2014. These disasters resulted in extensive damage to homes, businesses and infrastructure in the province, as well as emergency evacuations, particularly for communities around Lake St. Martin. 

“This funding shows that the Government of Canada is taking concrete steps to protect the vulnerable communities around Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin from disasters like the 2011 and 2014 flooding,” Carr said. “Mitigating the effects of natural hazards before they happen is critical to reducing the devastating social, personal and economic costs of recovering after the fact. With investments like these, we will make communities across Canada more resilient to climate change, and ensure residents and businesses can thrive for generations to come.”

The project consists of building two approximately 23-kilometre-long diversion channels: the Lake Manitoba Outlet Channel will run north from Watchorn Bay on Lake Manitoba to Birch Bay on Lake St. Martin; the Lake St. Martin Outlet Channel will run northeast from Lake St. Martin to Lake Winnipeg south of Willow Point. The project also involves building two bridges and water control structures, a 24-kilovolt distribution line, and adjusting surrounding highway infrastructure. 

The project will significantly reduce the flood damage experienced by First Nations located along Lake St. Martin, complementing other regional flood protection infrastructure to ensure a more comprehensive provincial water control network that enables the province to effectively manage flows from the Assiniboine River and Lake Manitoba watersheds spanning Manitoba, southeast Saskatchewan and northeast North Dakota. Together, the channels will allow Manitoba to regulate lake levels and provide flood protection to individuals, businesses, communities and farmland around Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin. Once completed, this work will significantly enhance the region’s ability to regulated water levels on both lakes and protect local Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities from flooding. 

The new Lake Manitoba outlet channel is designed with a capacity of 7,500 cubic feet per second (cfs) and the Lake St. Martin channel will carry approximately 11,500 cfs at capacity. The current capacity of the Lake St. Martin Emergency Outlet Channel is approximately 4,000 cfs. The existing single Lake St .Martin emergency channel to Lake Winnipeg will be available on an emergency basis during construction. After the permanent channels are completed, the existing emergency channel will be modified for environmental support purposes, which are still being defined and developed.  

The current proposed channel alignments are a result of evaluating several options for each channel. Construction of an access road to the Lake St. Martin construction area is underway. The remainder of construction could start as soon as fall 2019.

Lake Manitoba update: June 18, 2018

The website it back up this morning and relatively calm winds give us a good look at lake levels. The current level of Lake Manitoba is 811.76 feet. Flow on the Waterhen is 6,463 cfs. The level of Lake Winnipegosis is currently 832.38 feet. Flow at Fairford is down to 5,650 cfs, and will fall further as the level of Lake Manitoba declines. Flow on the Whitemud River is now down to 148 cfs. The level of Lake St. Martin is up slightly to 800.26 feet. The flow on the Assiniboine is rising following the rains associated with the storms last week and is currently 4,838 at Holland (the gauge was calibrated this week) and 3,708 cfs at Headingly. The Shellmouth Reservoir is up this week to to 1404.76 feet.

River update
Time: 7:30 AM June 18, 2018
Portage Diversion: closed
Assiniboine at Holland: 4,838 cfs
Assiniboine at Headingly: 3,708 cfs
Waterhen: 6,463 cfs
Whitemud: 148 cfs
Fairford: 5,650 cfs

Lake update
Time: 7:30 AM June 18, 2018
Steep Rock: 811.71 ft
Westbourne: 812.81 ft
Mean level Lake Manitoba: 811.76
Lake Manitoba desired operating range: 810.5 to 812.5 ft
Lake St. Martin: 800.26 ft
Lake St. Martin desired operating range: 797.0 to 800.0 ft
Lake Winnipegosis: 832.28 FT
Shellmouth Reservoir: 1404.76 ft