The Lake of the Woods Control Board held a Regulation Meeting on October 29th. The goal of the meeting was to discuss and adopt a strategy to guide Lake of the Woods and Lac Seul flow operations from now until the end of March. Invitations to participate in the discussion were sent to representatives of First Nations, Specific Interest Groups, and advisors from Resource Agencies as described on the Board Description page.
The focus of the discussion was the ongoing drought conditions and the low flows across the basin. For much of the year, the LWCB has regulated to hold back water in Lac Seul and Lake of the Woods given the extremely dry conditions. This stored water is essential to supply the English and Winnipeg Rivers through the winter when tributary flows are typically lowest. Flow requirements for hydropower in Ontario and Manitoba become a key consideration in the core winter period when energy demand for heating is at its highest. Maintaining a base flow to protect residential water lines along these rivers is also important. Other considerations include the rate of drawdown of Lac Seul and Lake of the Woods over the winter period, as this affects fall spawning success and has the potential to cause ice damage to shoreline structures such as docks. Finally, preliminary targets for the lake levels at the end of the winter were considered with a focus on risk of continued drought conditions in the spring of 2022.
The adopted strategy aims to maintain the current stable, low flows out of Lac Seul and Lake of the Woods for the remainder of fall until freeze-up, continuing to store water for release over the winter period. The LWCB will monitor the progress of freeze-up and lake and river ice development, and will look to increase outflow from these lakes to meet the core winter flow requirements for the English and Winnipeg Rivers ahead of significant ice build-up. The timing of outflow increases will depend on the temperature over the coming weeks and will be updated on this Notice Board.
The LWCB will meet to review the early winter conditions and assess the snowpack and winter severity in January. Based on this, it will target changes, if necessary, to the core winter flow rates before the next LWCB Regulation Meeting scheduled for early March. At that meeting, the strategy for the end of winter and early spring will be adopted.
The current level of Lake of the Woods is 322.51 m (1058.1 ft), a 5th percentile level for this time of year. The average lake level changed little over the past week and is expected to decline by 2-3 cm (1 in) over the next week with continued dry weather. Lake of the Woods authorized outflow is 90 m³/s with no changes scheduled.
The current level of Lac Seul is 355.83 m (1167.4 ft), a 10th percentile level for this time of year. The average lake level rose by 2 cm (1 in), and is expected to rise by a similar amount over the next week. Lac Seul authorized outflow is 75 m³/s with no changes scheduled.