Without rain, low Sask. water levels expected throughout summer
Water levels around the province are lower than usual, and the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency (WSA) says without rain, rivers and lakes could remain lower going into winter.
According to the WSA there are several reasons why water levels in the province are lower.
Heat, lack of rain, snow melts, and even the ground moisture seen last fall all come into play when figuring out why water levels are lower around the province.
“The river is flowing at about 65 per cent of normal for this time of year. Certainly dry conditions, we are seeing those in a lot of different areas. We’re just not getting that flow that we would normally see, that’s what we’re seeing in a lot of different areas of the province,” Patrick Boyle, a spokesperson with the WSA said about the North Saskatchewan River.
“When you don’t get that rainfall, what it means to a lot of areas is water levels, and a shortage of that.”
Both the North and South Saskatchewan Rivers are seeing low levels for this time of year, and a big part of that is the water that comes from out of province.
“What happens in Alberta does affect what happens here, because a lot of our flow comes from Alberta and goes into Saskatchewan at two major points. The South Saskatchewan River in the south, and the North Saskatchewan River in the North,” Boyle told CTV.
It isn’t just the rivers in the province being affected. According to the SWSA levels in Lake Diefenbaker are at 85 per cent of what they should be, and the lake is 3.61 metres lower than at full supply, and many other lakes like Diefenbaker are experiencing similar lows.
The SWSA said although a lot of factors came together to create these conditions, it is mainly up to the rain at this point to hopefully bring levels back up a bit more before the winter freeze.
“Depending on the rainfall situation, likely were going to see water levels for most areas across the province probably be below normal, or well below normal,” Boyle told CTV.
“Depending on where you are, likely not going to change the situation a whole lot here unless the rainfall picks up a lot.”
The SWSA said it is hard to compare water level shortages year to year as every year different parts of the province are hit harder than others, but when comparing the overall situation in the province to previous years, the droughts in the 1980s come to mind for some.
“It’s tough provincially to look at it, but a lot of people draw back to a year that we saw dry conditions throughout the province. The late 1980s is always a checkpoint,” Boyle said.
“This year has been really, really, really low. In fact, we haven’t seen levels like this since the mid-80s,” said Edith MacHattie, Eb’s Source for Adventure employee and water sports enthusiast.
MacHattie said with levels as low as they are, it is a good year to be starting out in a water sport.
“The shallower the river the less current there is, so it’s a little more inviting to people who aren’t sure about currents or paddling in currents,” MacHattie told CTV.
“Pretty much anyone can paddle on the river safely right now.”
MacHattie has been involved in water sports her whole life, and although she is happy to see conditions that are favourable for newcomers, it still hurts to see the river she uses so often be so low.
“It makes you worry. I love our river, its our lifeblood going through Saskatoon, so if we see more and more years like this it is definitely concerning.”
Darrelynn Fair, who lives in Alberta, has been travelling to North Battleford for years now to visit her kids and grandkids and said this year they could immediately tell something was off.
“It was really hot that day and there was only one other car in the whole parking lot, and usually that park is extremely busy,” Fair told CTV.
Once they got to the North Saskatchewan River, the same location they usually go to, they discovered the water levels so low that the whole area looked more like a beach than a river.
Fair said her grandchildren loved running around and playing in the pools of water that had gathered, but she and the other adults knew that this wasn’t a great sign.
“They thought it was great there was no water, cause now they could run down. They don’t understand what it really means,” Fair said.
“As adults we know that’s not a great situation for it to be dried out like that, but very interesting because it was not something we have seen before.”