Lake Manitoba update: Dec. 9, 2018

Another week of little change. The current level of Lake Manitoba, 811.44 feet, is up very slightly from last week. Flow on the Waterhen River is declining and the gauge is currently registers 1,059 cfs. That is below the current outflow at Fairford, which is 2,998 cfs. Gauges on the rivers are subject to uncertainty with the effects of ice. Lake St. Martin continues to rise and has now reached 798.79 ft, up 0.10 feet from last week. The level of Lake Winnipegosis is 831.79 feet. Flow on the Whitemud River remains low at 42 cfs. Flow on the Assiniboine River is down slightly to 1,370 cfs at Holland; the gauge at Headingly remains offline. The level of the Shellmouth Reservoir is down to 1399.05 feet.

River update
Time: 8:30 AM December 9, 2018
Portage Diversion: closed
Assiniboine at Holland: 1,370 cfs
Assiniboine at Headingly: gauge offline
Waterhen: 1,059 cfs
Whitemud: 42 cfs
Fairford: 2,998 cfs
 
Lake update
Time: 8:30 AM December 9, 2018
Steep Rock: 811.44 ft
Westbourne: 811.44 ft
Mean level Lake Manitoba: 811.44
Lake Manitoba desired operating range: 810.5 to 812.5 ft
Lake St. Martin: 798.79 ft
Lake St. Martin desired operating range: 797.0 to 800.0 ft
Lake Winnipegosis: 831.79 ft
Shellmouth Reservoir: 1399.05 ft

Lake Manitoba update: Dec. 2, 2018

It is a week of little change. The current level of Lake Manitoba, 811.43 feet, is up slightly from last week. Flow on the Waterhen River appears to be declining and the gauge is currently reading 1,377 cfs. That is below the current outflow at Fairford, which is 2,906 cfs. Gauges on the rivers are subject to uncertainty with the effects of ice. Lake St. Martin continues to rise and has now reached 798.69 ft, up 0.15 feet from last week. The level of Lake Winnipegosis is 831.88 feet. Flow on the Whitemud River remains low at 37 cfs. Flow on the Assiniboine River is up slightly to 1,469 cfs at Holland; the gauge at Headingly is offline. The level of the Shellmouth Reservoir is down to 1399.16 feet.

River update
Time: 9:00 AM December 2, 2018
Portage Diversion: closed
Assiniboine at Holland: 1,469 cfs
Assiniboine at Headingly: gauge offline
Waterhen: 1,377 cfs
Whitemud: 37 cfs
Fairford: 2,906 cfs
 
Lake update
Time: 9:00 AM December 2, 2018
Steep Rock: 811.40 ft
Westbourne: 811.47 ft
Mean level Lake Manitoba: 811.43
Lake Manitoba desired operating range: 810.5 to 812.5 ft
Lake St. Martin: 798.69 ft
Lake St. Martin desired operating range: 797.0 to 800.0 ft
Lake Winnipegosis: 831.88 ft
Shellmouth Reservoir: 1399.16 ft

Province calls on federal government to ensure timely completion of the Lake Manitoba / Lake St. Martin outlet channels

The province issued the following press release this morning:

“The Manitoba government is calling on the federal government to do its part to ensure the timely completion of the Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin Outlet Channels, Premier Brian Pallister announced today.

We will not allow the delays of the past to be repeated,” said Pallister.  “The costs and consequences of inaction are far too great.  We are focused on completing this project as soon as possible to better protect Manitobans who have suffered and sacrificed too much, for too long.”

The full press release can be found here:

https://news.gov.mb.ca/news/index.html?item=44799&posted=2018-11-27

 

Lake Manitoba update: Nov. 25, 2018

With ice forming on the rivers, the estimates of the river flows are subject to uncertainty until stage readings / gauge calibrations are done, so the numbers presented here may not be accurate. The current level of Lake Manitoba, 811.41 feet, is down slightly from last week. Flow on the Waterhen River is 1,766 cfs this morning. That is below the current outflow at Fairford, which is 2,887 cfs. Lake St. Martin continues to rise and has now reached 798.53 ft. The level of Lake Winnipegosis is 831.89 feet. Flow on the Whitemud River remains low at 35 cfs. Flow on the Assiniboine River is up to 1,413 cfs at Holland and 1,109 cfs at Headingly (I’m not sure if I believe those numbers). The level of the Shellmouth Reservoir is down to 1399.23 feet.

River update
Time: 7:30 AM November 25, 2018
Portage Diversion: closed
Assiniboine at Holland: 1,413 cfs
Assiniboine at Headingly: 1,109 cfs
Waterhen: 1,766 cfs
Whitemud: 35 cfs
Fairford: 2,887 cfs
 
Lake update
Time: 7:30 AM November 25, 2018
Steep Rock: 811.38 ft
Westbourne: 811.43 ft
Mean level Lake Manitoba: 811.41
Lake Manitoba desired operating range: 810.5 to 812.5 ft
Lake St. Martin: 798.53 ft
Lake St. Martin desired operating range: 797.0 to 800.0 ft
Lake Winnipegosis: 831.89 ft
Shellmouth Reservoir: 1399.23 ft

Summary of the Fairford WCS operating guidelines

From: Jack King, President ALMS

The following is a summary of the Fairford Water Control Structure (WCS) Operating Guidelines based on the recommendations of the 2003 Lake Manitoba Regulation Review Advisory Committee 2003 and the 2013 Lake Manitoba, Lake St. Martin Regulation Review Committee:

a) The desired operating range on Lake Manitoba is 812.5 ft to 810.5 ft. The desired operating range on Lake St. Martin is 797.0 ft to 800.0 ft.

b) During recovery from flood conditions on Lake Manitoba, the Fairford Control Structure is kept wide open until Lake Manitoba recedes to the middle of the range after which is should be cut back to a normal setting (50-60% capacity)

c) During recovery from drought, the Fairford Control Structure is kept at 800 cfs until Lake Manitoba levels increase to middle of the range after which point the structure will be operated to achieve normal outflow (50-60% capacity)

d) Under normal operating conditions, once outflow reaches normal, there are no further stop-log adjustments, as long as Lake Manitoba remains within the range.

e) Any variances in the lake levels outside of the range shall be shared between Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin insofar as this may be reasonably possible.

f) The minimum flow on the Fairford River should be 800 cfs with a desirable flow of 1,000 cfs as often as possible.

ALMS meeting with Manitoba Infrastructure

From ALMS President Jack King:

A meeting was held with Manitoba Infrastructure on November 6.

Attending for the government was Scott Sinclair (Acting Deputy Minister), Ruth Eden (Acting Deputy Minister Water Management & Structures), Jeremy Angus (Acting Assistant Deputy Minister Emergency Management & Public Safety. The executive of ALMS represented by Jack King, Harry Frederick, Scott Forbes, Doug Ross, Jeannie Gurr and Alice Dent.

The chief item on the agenda was an update of the Lake Manitoba – Lake St. Martin Channel. There has been a partial start for road access – not requiring a licencing agreement from the environmental review.

The review process has been complicated by the addition of a Technical Advisory Committee by the Federal government. We are told that this group consists of two reps per thirty-five aboriginal communities deemed to be affected by the new channel.

Your ALMS reps questioned the number of communities identified and asked for clarification. Since the Federal government established the group the best that the Province can do is provide a list of the members and communities represented. To date we have not received this information. We have indicated that we will be requesting representation from the communities south of the channel.

While the Province maintains that no group holds veto power over the construction of the channel, they did acknowledge that the Technical Advisory group could add to the timeline for the environmental review. Each time they raise a question requiring research, the clock stops until the issue is answered. So, what should be a two-year review may be significantly longer.

There was an understanding that policy input will be sought involving ALMS regarding the operation of the new channel. Consensus was that the channel will provide lake management with higher water levels during the recreation season followed by lower the levels going into Fall and Winter in anticipation of the Spring melt.

We discussed the work completed on the Fairford Water Control System (FWCS) which has resulted in safer conditions when the concrete stops are removed or added to regulate flows.

The FWCS will be run this winter according to the guidelines established by the Province. Those regulations are appended to this post. We stressed the importance of the structure to mitigate against high lake levels. The FWCS allowed to operate in the winter of 2016 is believed to have spared flooding in the spring of 2017. We encouraged the structure to operate similarly this winter.

It would be fair to note that there was overall frustration with the update on the channel. What had been a project timeline of completion by 2021 has been increased by four years. There is a distinct possibility that the environmental review will be extended because of the creation of an Advisory group. Given that the capacity for adding water has significantly increased with enhancements at the Portage Diversion without any environmental assessment and that it will take 14 years from the flood event to offset these flows, it stands to reason that our communities feel marginalized and frustrated.

We appreciated the opportunity to meet with the Province and represent our stake holders. There is a growing mood of pessimism given delays and a light at the end of the tunnel growing dimmer.

Lake Manitoba update: Nov. 18, 2018

Winter is (nearly) here and ice is forming on the lakes eliminating the wind effects from the readings. The level of Lake Manitoba is 811.44 feet and both gauges are providing the same reading, suggesting that the estimate of the lake level is pretty good. Waterhen flow has fallen as icing begins, dropping to 2,896 cfs. Estimates of river flows are subject to considerable uncertainty when ice is forming, and I’ll have greater confidence in the numbers when gauge calibrations / stage readings are performed. If the current estimate is accurate, inflow and outflow to Lake Manitoba are now roughly in balance, with the current outflow at Fairford being 3,002 cfs. Lake St. Martin has risen to 798.31 ft. The level of Lake Winnipegosis is still wind affected, and currently reading 831.94 feet, close to two feet about its long-term average level for this time of year. Flow on the Whitemud River is down to 35 cfs. Flow on the Assiniboine River is up to 1024 cfs at Holland and 989 cfs at Headingly. I’m not sure, however, if the rise in flow this week is real or the effects of ice on the gauges. The level of the Shellmouth Reservoir is down to 1399.32 feet.

River update
Time: 7:00 AM November 18, 2018
Portage Diversion: closed
Assiniboine at Holland: 1,024
Assiniboine at Headingly: 989 cfs
Waterhen: 2,896 cfs
Whitemud: 35 cfs
Fairford: 3,002 cfs
 
Lake update
Time: 7:00 AM November 18, 2018
Steep Rock: 811.44 ft
Westbourne: 811.44 ft
Mean level Lake Manitoba: 811.44
Lake Manitoba desired operating range: 810.5 to 812.5 ft
Lake St. Martin: 798.31 ft
Lake St. Martin desired operating range: 797.0 to 800.0 ft
Lake Winnipegosis: 831.94 ft
Shellmouth Reservoir: 1399.32 ft