High water across Sask. north, lost property in the Churchill River basin
SASKATOON -- People living along the Churchill River system and Reindeer Lake are contending with shoreline flooding.
The Water Security Agency (WSA) predicts levels will remain high for the rest of 2020 and slowly go down.
Peter Ballanytne Cree Nation represents many Indigenous people from northeast areas such as Southend, Pelican Narrows, Sandy Bay and Deschambault Lake.
Chief Peter Beatty said people there have lost boat docks and other property due to the high water levels.
“A number of places have been flooded out, especially were the two rivers meet. There’s traditional cabins there, trappers’ cabins (owned by) traditional resource users,” said Beatty.
Beatty said shoreline plants like rat root and mint used for traditional medicine are submerged under too much water to harvest.
Trapper and fisherman Tommy Bird has a camp on Reindeer Lake. He said fishing in the area is treacherous as there’s a lot of trees and debris in the water.
“We get affected by it. The docks we have either they are underwater or way in the bush.”
The WSA reports the water levels at Sandy Bay reached a peak on Aug. 4 and are now down about 0.6 metres.
Flows and levels are expected to remain relatively steady for the next week. Levels are considered 340 per cent above normal. An average year is closer to 700 cubic metres per second and this year peaked at about 2,450 cubic metres per second.
On Aug. 4, the observed peak was 10.15 m (2,420 cubic metres per second). A reduction of 300 m3/s in the Whitesand Dam outflow on the Reindeer River is planned for Wednesday.
This reduction will help to lower water levels further at Sandy Bay by mid-next week, the WSA says.
“Rainfall in Sandy Bay and Churchill River basin has been extreme to very high, well above what we see in a normal year,” spokesperson Patrick Doyle said.
“To the point where we see records get set on certain structures and that includes Sandy Bay and the dam there and we saw the peak in just over 10 meters in height in elevation and the historical peak had been just over 9.5 metres.”
Boyle said the water levels at Sandy Bay are going down and the WSA is focused on the high water levels at Lac La Ronge area and the dam there.