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High water a concern for Lake of the Woods Control Board

Oct 16, 2019 06:52AM ● By Editor
A satellite image capturing Lake of the Woods on Oct. 20, 2017. Image: Caren Binding, Environment and Climate Change Canada

From CBC News · October 15, 2019

The Lake of the Woods Control Board is holding information sessions this week on the high water conditions being experienced in the Winnipeg and English River watersheds.

Extremely high flows into Lake of the Woods, Lac Seul and the Winnipeg and English Rivers have developed through September and are continuing into October.

The control board has increased outflow from Lake of the Woods and Lac Seul in recent weeks to limit the lake level rise before freeze-up.

Following a relatively dry summer, rain this fall has set seasonal records in the area.

And the control board said outflow from Rainy Lake into Rainy River, which is regulated by the International Joint Commission, is four times greater than normal for early October, in addition to the direct rainfall raising lake levels.

Outflow from Lac Seul has also been increased significantly over the past two weeks, and is now higher than a 1-in-10 year event for October.

The Winnipeg River in Manitoba is also rising quickly in response to the increased flow from both lakes and heavy rainfall locally.

The LWCB said fully opening Norman Dam at this time of year is an exceptional step, with the quickly rising water causing damage to shorelines along the Winnipeg River.

With additional rainfall, Lake of the Woods is nearing the top of the operating level range defined in a Canada-United States treaty.

The LWCB said it aims to limit lake level rise before freeze-up, with current plans to sharply reduce lake outflow before freeze-up in late fall and to return the river to more moderate flows.

This is subject to change based on precipitation over the next month. Lowering lake and river levels prior to freeze-up is key to limiting shoreline ice damage on the lake and river following freeze-up.

Based on the latest flow forecasts, however, the LWCB said it's likely the lake level will not be lowered significantly before freeze-up, leaving shoreline structures vulnerable to winter ice.

An open house is being held in Winnipeg on Tuesday, Oct. 15, from 7 pm. to 8:30 pm. at the Holiday Inn, Winnipeg South. The second meeting will be held in Kenora at the Clarion Lakeside Inn at 7 o'clock Wednesday, Oct. 16 .

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