Province Advises Lake St. Martin Emergency Outlet Channel to Close
August 14, 2015
Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation’s Hydrologic Forecasting Centre advises closure of the Lake St. Martin emergency outlet channel will begin this week. The targeted water level through the operation of the emergency channel has been reached within the time frame set out in the province’s temporary authorization from the federal government’s Fisheries and Oceans Canada, set to expire Aug. 31.
The channel was reopened last summer following unusually high rainfalls across the prairies in June of 2014.
The Fairford River carries Lake Manitoba waters into Lake Pinemuta and then into Lake St. Martin. The Dauphin River carries Lake St. Martin waters into Lake Winnipeg.
The current level of Lake St. Martin is 801 feet and is expected to drop to 800.1 ft. by freeze-up, within the desired operating range. The Dauphin River flow is 7,200 cubic feet per second (cfs) and is forecast to drop to 5,500 cfs by freeze-up.
The level on Lake Manitoba is 812.5 ft. and is expected to be about 811.8 ft. at freeze-up, within the operating range established by the 2012 Lake Manitoba/Lake St. Martin Regulation Review Committee. Flows on the Fairford River are currently estimated at 9,680 cfs and are expected to drop to about 5,000 cfs at freeze-up.
The emergency outlet channel was built during the 2011 flood to drain flood water from Lake St. Martin and Lake Manitoba. Rock fill will be pushed across the channel entrance to close off the flow of water from Lake St. Martin into the channel. In addition, environmental monitoring will take place during the closure process with continued efforts to minimize effects to local habitat.
A recent funding commitment of $495 million was announced to construct an additional outlet channel from Lake Manitoba to Lake St. Martin, and the conversion and enlargement of the Lake St. Martin emergency outlet channel. This includes the construction of a permanent structure at the start of the Lake St. Martin channel, as well as an enhancement of the outlet channel. The project also involves the construction of a permanently engineered channel with an outlet to Lake Winnipeg, bypassing Dauphin River First Nation. The permanent structure will significantly reduce the economic burden that chronic flooding has had on the Province of Manitoba. The Manitoba government will invest $330 million in the project as part of Manitoba’s $5.5-billion, five-year core infrastructure plan.
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