Cottage owners seek provincial aid

Water was already becoming too close for comfort for the fire pit and garden area located near Doug Zorn’s former cabin at Jeannette Lake earlier this summer. Zorn said increasing water levels have since resulted in the area to be completely submerged.

Water was already becoming too close for comfort for the fire pit and garden area located near Doug Zorn’s former cabin at Jeannette Lake earlier this summer. Zorn said increasing water levels have since resulted in the area to be completely submerged.

by Phil Ambroziak

It may not have rained for 40 days and 40 nights, but the water level continues to rise at Jeannette Lake in the Meadow Lake Provincial Park leaving frustrated cabin owners questioning both their faith in Mother Nature and what kind of relief they might receive from the provincial government.

“There’s been a great deal of trouble – it’s terrible up there right now,” explained Doug Zorn who recently sold his cabin at Jeannette Lake to his daughter, Kelly.

Zorn, who still frequents the cabin he owned for more than 40 years, said he’s never seen the water as high and as troublesome as it’s been this summer.

“The crawl space is 18 inches above the water table and we now have about 18 inches of water in the crawl space – that means the water has risen at least 36 inches,” he said. “We’ve lost about 15 per cent of our lot and it’s killed all the trees in front and behind the cabin. The nearby forest has been completely destroyed.”

Zorn went on to say he can no longer access the fire pit outside the cabin nor can he enjoy the garden he plants there each summer, as they’re both under water. Meanwhile, a sump pump must be operated round-the-clock in an effort to keep as much water out of the building as possible.

“If we don’t, the place would be flooded out,” he added. “The problem is, we’ve had so much rain this year and there was so much snow this past winter, all that water has no place to go. The water is evaporating slower than it’s falling from the sky.”

Currently, there are 51 cabins situated at Jeannette with close to 10 of these serving as permanent residences. In a report published about a month ago, Ray Wilfing – president of the Jeanette Lake Cabin Owners’ Association – said many area residents had placed sandbags around their property to protect the beach.

“It’s become even worse since then,” Zorn said. “The Waterhen River kind of controls the water table in that area and right now the river itself is extremely high.”

This was echoed by Dale Hjertaas, executive director of policy and communications with the provincial Water Security Agency.

“Just like everywhere else in the province, there’s been a lot of rain, so water levels are generally high all over,” Hjertaas said.

Hjertaas went on to say Jeannette is located close to both the Waterhen River and the Beaver River, adding the typical flow for the Beaver River is measured at 40 cubic metres per second.

“Currently, the same river is flowing at 144.8 cubic metres per second,” he said.

As for a possible solution, Zorn said he, as well as others affected, plan to contact Meadow Lake MLA Jeremy Harrison to see what can be done. He also suggested the possibility of gaining access to any leftover funds set aside from recent flood relief efforts in the southern part of the province.

“We’ve talked to park officials and keep getting the same response – they don’t have enough money,” Zorn said. “That’s a crock. I ran budgets for years and money always has to be put aside for emergency purposes. If not, a planned project is cancelled and that money is then used for emergency purposes.”

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