Lakes north of Prince Albert at record setting levels

Jodi Schellenberg
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High rainfall and spring runoff have caused problems for two lakes north of Prince Albert.

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Both Christopher and Emma Lakes are at above average water levels this year, prompting the Water Security Agency to ask landowners to be aware of the potential impacts of the rainfall forecast for the area.

“What we are looking at right now is the above normal amounts of precipitation have pushed the lakes to … actually the highest level on record,” said Patrick Boyle, Water Security Agency spokesperson. “Emma Lake is about 0.46 metres above normal and Christopher Lake is .32 metres above normal.”

In the last month many areas in the province saw precipitation levels about 150 to 200 per cent above normal. That combined with above normal spring runoff has contributed to the record high levels in the lakes.

“What we are seeing is a lot of rainfall contributing into the lakes from the basin in the area. That is what is pushing it up,” Boyle said. “They will most likely be high for the rest of the recreational season.”

Since August is traditionally a drier month, Boyle said some of the water should evaporate.

“It is all rainfall and precipitation dependent right now and it does take awhile for that half metre to 0.3 metre to get down,” he said. “We are looking well into August and potentially September.”

Since landowners by the lakes may be impacted, the agency is asking them to call the North Battleford office at 1-306-446-7450 to ask about the Emergency Flood Damage Reduction Program.

“We just want to get that out there because there is a significant amount of development around those lakes,” Boyle said.

They have not received many calls yet but hope more people will take defensive procedures against potential flooding.

“This is the type of situation where they might not be affected right away but there is somewhere between 15 and 20 millimetres forecasted over the next week or so here,” Boyle said.

“If we look at getting an extra inch on top of the lakes -- so that is water that goes directly on top of the lake, and then we have to factor what comes in from the basin over the course of two or three days after a rainfall that actually materializes and drains into the lakes, so that will push it up even higher,” he added. “When you are already at a record level and you add water on top of that, that is a concern for us, especially the properties that will be closer to the shoreline.”

Since they have seen a consistent, slow increase in levels throughout the summer, Boyle said they want landowners to be aware of the risks.

The program provides assistance with the implementation of emergency flood damage prevention and reduction measures, he said.

It provides 100 per cent of technical costs and engineering, 100 per cent of the cost of sandbags and 70 per cent of the cost of long-term works, such as berms and diversion channels.

“We did an independent analysis of the program when we first brought it in in 2011,” Boyle said. “What it showed was for every $1 we invested in this flood mitigation efforts, we saved $20 in damages. It has been a very valuable program for us.

Since 2011, they have invested more than $30 million in permanent flood mitigation projects.

“It has worked well and we are really encouraging people to contact us and utilize it if they do feel they could be affected.”

Organizations: Water Security Agency, Prince Albert

Geographic location: Emma Lake, Christopher Lake, North Battleford

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