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Water Levels Committee Status Report Excerpt from the August Echo

Posted on: August 10, 2017  |  

Water Levels Committee:

Water levels throughout the Whiteshell are abnormally low this year, with very little rain since spring break-up.  The few lakes with level control structures have been able to retain much of the spring run-off, but the rest are all very near their winter draw down level.  Complaints have been received from Caddy Lake, Big Whiteshell Lake, and even from cottagers using the boat access channels on Falcon Lake (which is still within its target range).

Caddy and Betula Lakes: both suffer the same problem with wide – flat top discharge weirs that set a minimum level for the lake, but allow any water above that level, to escape very quickly.   We have been asking MI (Manitoba Infrastructure) for several years now, to modify these weirs to reduce the rate of discharge as the level declines (install a higher weir on top of the existing one,  with a small tapered section to allow for fall draw down), with no tangible response.  Even the preliminary design review has not been done. We continue to raise this issue as a priority in an effort to gain a response.  Further inaction will raise this issue to requesting ministerial involvement this fall.

Big Whiteshell Lake: has need of a similar structure, though they do not have an existing weir (setting their minimum level) to work with as yet.   Other (long term) modes of relief from chronically low water levels (in Big Whiteshell and the lakes downstream) are being investigated internally by WCA’s Water Levels Committee.

Falcon Lake: still suffers from the lack of a functional level control structure. Water continues to drain from the lake through a rock weir installed to reduce the loss of breeding stock from the resident fish population.  This same weir reduced the discharge rate available to relieve the flood last year, but continues to exist.

Progress on the Preliminary Design of the new water level control structure for Falcon Lake has been allowed to fall seriously behind schedule. Review meetings with Hatch (the consultant engaged approximately one year ago,  to carry out the hydraulic analysis of the lake, the Falcon River, and water attribution channels, have been delayed.  They have been “unable to formulate recommendations” due to unanticipated complexities uncovered during the design development process.  Recommendations were expected 6 months ago.

The consultant has confirmed the inadequacy of the River (which flows out of Falcon Lake) to handle the desired discharge flow rate without dredging. Dredging this amount of river bed would be very expensive to carry out, and would require an Environmental Impact Study and approval of those parties affected, before it could be undertaken.

The configuration options put forward by WCA approximately 2 years ago (divert the Falcon Creek (which flows into Falcon Lake) into the Falcon River directly, and use a pumped discharge system to regulate the lake level), remains the most predictable and cost effective option available that we are aware of. This option too, may require an Environmental Impact Assessment be carried out before it could be implemented.

Dredging of the boat access channels: for some reason, SD (Sustainable Development) is delaying a decision to proceed with the maintenance work required, until after the lake level issues have been resolved. They don’t seem to realize that the dredging is a larger and independent issue – that must be resolved regardless of the method of level control selected.  It is also the cause of All of the Falcon Lake complaints we’ve received – with many cottagers unable to use their boats because of it.

The bassimetry (underwater topographic survey) of these channels is being gathered by MI this summer. This is a necessary precursor for design of the remedial works and scope of dredging required.

Winnipeg River weekly water levels forecast from Manitoba Hydro are now being posted on the WCA website as well as being distributed by Facebook and Twitter. The cooperation of both LWCB and Manitoba Hydro in reporting on the Winnipeg River lake level data is much appreciated.

We attended the LWCB (Lake of the Woods Control Board) meeting in Kenora on June 15th.   Their efforts to prevent changes in the water flow rate during periods of ice formation, and break-up, will reduce damage to shore line infrastructure, and their adoption of a policy to limit weekly changes in the flow rate to 100 m3 /s whenever possible, will reduce the rate of summer level fluctuations.  These changes will reduce dock owner’s maintenance costs, and enhance the enjoyment of boaters using the river lakes in the Whiteshell.   We delivered thanks on behalf of the Whiteshell cottagers for their cooperation in these matters.

Report by: Alan Roberts

Chair: Water Levels Cmte.

 

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Hello WCA, Here are the new items for today. It’s a short update for today.- TransCanada Trail at Penniac Bay has reopened with wet spots existing on trail.Whiteshell Provincial Park: May 28, 2022 A local state of emergency has been declared for Whiteshell Provincial Park on May 20, 2022 due to rising water levels within the park. Developed areas at Betula Lake were closed on May 21, 2022. This closure area was expanded (May 24) to include Sylvia Lake, Otter Falls, Dorothy Lake, Barrier Bay and Nutimik Lake areas. No person should reside or enter into the closed area. Please visit the Manitoba Parks Website www.gov.mb.ca/sd/parks/ to see a map of the closure. This applies to all cottage subdivisions, commercial areas, campgrounds, group use, day use, recreational and picnic areas, playgrounds, trails, and beaches with within the order area. During the closure no person should reside or enter into the closure area of the park. Manitoba Hydro released information this afternoon regarding the expected continued high water flows on the Winnipeg River. Water continues to rise significantly along the lakes that make up the Winnipeg River system (Nutimik, Dorothy, Margaret, Eleanor, and Sylvia Lakes as well as Pointe du Bois) as water moves downstream from Lake of the Woods. Water levels rise quickly in these areas due to natural restrictions along the river. Please see www.hydro.mb.ca/corporate/facilities/water_levels/ to view the forecast. Manitoba Hydro is predicating an increase of water levels from the current high water over the next 10 to 14 days, as follows: • 6 inches upstream of Eight Foot Falls. • 10 inches in Nutimik Lake. • 9 inches in Dorothy Lake. • 11 inches in Margaret/Eleanor Lake. • 1 foot in Sylvia Lake. • 8 inches upstream of Silver Falls. The Winnipeg River is expected to crest between June 5-10. Rising water levels and rapidly evolving conditions pose a significant risk to public safety. Manitoba Parks continue to monitor safety and water levels inside the closure area, additional safety measures may be applied if required. Manitoba Parks has been contacting all permanent residents in the closure area. If you have not been contacted by Manitoba Parks staff to register, please call the parks line at 204-340-6769 and leave a message with your name, lot, block, subdivision, and ask to be added to the permanent residents list. You will then be called back to register. Water levels improvement are being seen in all areas south of the Winnipeg River. Falcon, West Hawk, Star, Caddy, Brereton, White, and Jessica Lakes are reporting a decrease today.Manitoba Parks staff are working in conjunction with staff from the department of Manitoba Transportation and Infrastructure to monitor lake levels and adjust control structures where possible. This includes monitoring structures for blockages. Crescent Beach seawall at West Hawk is barricaded and closed. Pay attention to signage, and barricades. The travel lane has been moved away from the wall and is narrow in spots, please travel slowly. Cottages in the Crescent Beach, High Rock, McKenzie Beach, and Hunt Lake subdivisions should be aware of the potential for a re-route in the event of further damage to the seawall. Sandbags for filling and sand are available for cottage owners at: the 8 Foot Falls Road in Pointe du Bois, Jessica Lake at the garbage collection site, the parking lot across from Brereton Lake Resort, the West Hawk maintenance yard, and the causeway at Falcon Lake. There are a limited number of pre-filled bags at the Jessica Lake and Pointe du Bois depots. PR 307 from the west park entrance to the PR307/309 junction, and PR 312 near Caddy Lake is closed to all traffic. PR 309 near Meditation Lake is restricted to local traffic only. We encourage everyone to check manitoba511.ca before travelling. You can call 511 anywhere in Manitoba to get updates by phone. Water is present on several block roads throughout the park. White Lake Block 4 is closed to vehicle use. The following block roads should not be crossed in a smaller vehicle until the water recedes: High Rock Road at West Hawk, and Jessica Lake Block 5-6-7-8. Caution should be used when travelling through flooded areas. The following boat launches are closed in addition to those in the park closure area: 8 Foot Falls, Big Creek, White Lake, Jessica Lake, South Shore Big Whiteshell, and Toniata. West Hawk and Falcon Beach Campground Boat launches have been re-opened. Public can expect open launches to be without docks, high water is preventing repair and placement of docks throughout the park. Please use caution and courtesy when boating. All boat traffic should be cautious of debris and items submerged below the surface. Please be advised that you cannot visit the closed area of the park by boat. Access is not allowed to your cottage or recreational areas via the Winnipeg River. No landing in the closed area is allowed. Extreme caution should be used with travelling the upstream portion of the Winnipeg River (Pointe du Bois to Lamprey Falls). To minimize potential erosion caused by boat wakes, recreational motor boat restrictions are in place. Recreational motor boat traffic is prohibited from operating within 100 metres of the shoreline on: West Hawk, Falcon, Caddy, Star, Brereton, Jessica, White, Big Whiteshell, Betula, Nutimik, Dorothy, Margaret, Eleanor Lakes, and the shoreline adjacent to the Pointe du Bois subdivision in Whiteshell Provincial Park. When exiting or approaching the shoreline, boats should move directly out from land and avoid creating a wake. The following hiking trails are closed in addition to those in the park closure area: the Marsh Trail (between Falcon Lake Marina and Beach Campground) and Hunt Lake. TransCanada Trail at Penniac Bay has reopened with wet spots existing on trail. All backcountry campsites in Whiteshell Provincial park are closed due to flooding, high water conditions and frequently changing portage conditions. Campers should check the Manitoba Parks homepage for the status of campgrounds prior to coming to the park. Several campgrounds have full or partial closures. All campground in the closure area will remain closed until this portion of the park reopens (Dorothy Lake, Opapiskaw, Nutimik Lake, and Otter Falls). In addition, White Lake Campground is closed (seasonal and nightly) and nightly camping is closed in Big Whiteshell Campground. Phone Numbers/ Websites:• Parks info line for water, flood and closures: 204-340-6769 between 8am and 6pm daily. • To report an emergency please contact the RCMP via 911 if located in the South Whiteshell, 204-348-7177 in the North Whiteshell, and 204-345-8685 in Pointe du Bois. • Camping Information 1-888-482-2267 for the Parks Reservation Service. • Environment, Climate and Parks General inquiry line 1-800-214-6497. • Highway conditions: Manitoba511.ca • Manitoba Parks: manitobapark.com for a list of other closures.• Manitoba Hydro Water Flow New Release: www.hydro.mb.ca/articles/2022/05/manitoba_hydro_advises_extreme_caution_on_waterways/• DFA Information: www.gov.mb.ca/emo/dfa/residence.html, dfa@gov.mb.ca or by phone at 204-945-3050. ... See MoreSee Less
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Kelly Jones – “Hi. This dock has floated its way over to Moonlight Bay at WestHawk lake. Our neighbor has secured it and we are hoping to find its owner as I’m sure they would like it back! Can you please post?” ... See MoreSee Less
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Confirmed again this morning that the Winnipeg River Forecast from Hydro yesterday HAVE factored in the anticipated rainfall over the next few days. ... See MoreSee Less
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Betula Lake Page ( Ashley Desjardins) –“Another one from Stefanson. (Premiers visit earlier)I think I’ve labeled it correctly. Not sure how that highway is going to survive this. ” ... See MoreSee Less
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Sheila Dancho –“Pictures of Nutimik Island on May 21.” ... See MoreSee Less
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