Water levels in the area are expected to fluctuate and lower ahead of spring, to provide more water storage in local waterways to avoid flooding once the snow starts to melt.
The Water Levels Committee of the International Rainy – Lake of the Woods Watershed Board has directed dam operators in the region to use the high flood risk rule curve on Rainy Lake, which is used when a flood risk is identified. The rule curve calls for lower than normal water levels.
The committee says that baseflow conditions are higher than normal for this time of the year, overall average winter temperatures are normal, and we’ve seen more snowfall than the average winter.
Statistics from Environment Canada show that in Kenora, 2018-2019’s winter has seen the fourth-most snow in since 1993, and the second-most snow this decade. So far, this winter in Kenora has seen 234.6 centimetres of snow. The winter of 1996 saw 272.3 cm, and 2013’s winter season saw 290 cm.
However, representatives from local fisheries noted that higher water levels in the spring are generally more favourable for fish spawning, especially northern pike, and that too many years with low water levels should be avoided.
The Water Levels Committee hosted its first Pre-Spring Engagement Webinar on March 4, during which, engineering advisers provided a summary of basin conditions and seasonal forecast information to the committee. They say that they will continue to monitor basin conditions as the spring progresses.
Winter snowfall statistics were not provided for Dryden or Sioux Lookout.