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High water levels on Lake of the Woods, Rainy Lake, force regulators to increase outflows

Sep 25, 2019 04:55AM ● By Editor
High water levels on Lake of the Woods and Rainy Lake this fall mean regulators are increasing outflows into the Winnipeg River. Photo: Amy Hadley/CBC

From CBC News · September 24, 2019

Officials with the Lake of the Woods Control Board say Canada and U.S. environmental regulators responsible for water levels in the Lake of the Woods–Rainy River watershed are seeing near-record water levels this fall.

The high water means that the control board is increasing the amount of water it's allowing to flow out of Lake of the Woods into the Winnipeg River. The board, which includes engineering representatives from the Canadian, Ontario and Manitoba governments, is responsible for the regulation of levels in Lake of the Woods and Lac Seul and flows in the Winnipeg and English Rivers downstream.

The high levels on Lake of the Woods are due to large amounts of rainfall across the Lake of the Woods–Rainy River watershed over the past month, officials said, as well as the subsequent large outflows of water from Rainy Lake into the Rainy River, upstream from Lake of the Woods.

Those outflows are controlled by the International Joint Commission, which includes representatives from Canada and the United States. They've more than tripled since early September, and are approaching record levels for this time of year, the Lake of the Woods Control board said.

The existing record outflow for September was set in 1992. Current rates are five times the normal rate for this time of year.

The amount of rain across the Lake of the Woods area also approached record levels set back in 1941, the control board said.

Regulators are increasing the flow of water out of the watershed in order to lower lake levels before freeze-up in order to minimize ice damage to waterfront properties. That means levels will rise in the Winnipeg River, downstream.

The control board said it will then reduce the flow of water into the Winnipeg River before the late fall freeze.

To read the original article and see related reporting, follow this link to the CBC Thunder Bay website.

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