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2024.03.13 Level Forecast and Spring Regulation Strategy

The current level of Lake of the Woods is 322.46 m (1057.9 ft), a 45th percentile level, within the normal range for this time of year. The average lake level declined by 2 cm (0.5 in) over the last week and is expected to remain relatively stable, holding steady or declining 1 cm (0.5 in) over the next week. Lake of the Woods authorized outflow is schedule to decrease to 275 m3/s on Thursday, March 14th, and to 250 m3/s on Monday, March 18th.

Each of these flow changes will cause the level of the Winnipeg River to decrease by approximately 5 cm (2 in) directly downstream of the Norman Dam and by 2 cm (0.5 in) above the Dalles. The level at Minaki will not be affected by these flow changes.

The current level of Lac Seul is 354.66 m (1163.58 ft), a 25th percentile level, which is below normal for this time of year. The lake level declined by 6 cm (2.4 in) over the past week and is expected to decline by 2 to 3 cm (0.8 to 1.2 in) over the next week. Lac Seul authorized outflow is 175 m3/s with no changes scheduled as this time.

Spring Regulation Strategy

On March 5, the LWCB held its spring Regulation Meeting in Kenora, attended by specific interest groups and resource agencies, and adopted its Spring Regulation Strategy. The strategy outlines regulation targets for various inflow conditions for the period of March to the end of June. The Secretariat presented data and statistics on the extremely low snowpack, unusual winter rain events and record breaking high air temperatures experienced over the winter. Many meeting attendees provided observations on the mild winter conditions and voiced their concern for dry conditions persisting into the spring.

For Lake of the Woods, the strategy targets a normal level for end of March, slightly higher than the target last year, to maintain storage in case of continued dry conditions. Although there is some snowpack locally around Lake of the Woods, the Rainy-Namakan basin upstream has very little to no snow on the ground. Spring outflows from Rainy Lake are expected to remain low, providing less inflow than usual to Lake of the Woods for the lake to refill this spring.

For Lac Seul, the strategy targets mid-April levels that are slightly lower than the preferences for fish spawning, due to the lack of inflow over the winter and persisting dry conditions since last year in this part of the basin. Inflows to Lac Seul have been below normal over the course of the winter and the snowpack is lower than or close to normal in some areas. Outflows have been reduced over the month of February to stop lake level drawdown and hedge against the risk of low spring inflows.