Lack of precipitation affecting lake levels

By Derek Cornet

After several years of above-normal precipitation in northern Saskatchewan, Environment Canada is forecasting below-average rainfall for the next three months.

The low amount of snow last winter mixed with dry spring weather is already having an impact on lake levels throughout the Northwest. While it’s been reported Green Lake is between five and 10 feet lower than normal, Jeanette Lake in the Meadow Lake Provincial Park is down only a couple inches.

“We’ve had this happen before,” Green Lake Lodge owner Bryan Jensrud said. “But, when other lakes couldn’t be accessed because the water was too low, this lake could.”

He went on to say the low water levels can cause challenges. Jensrud said the docks have had to be rearranged several times in the last couple of months, but he’s not worried if levels continue to drop because Green Lake is so deep.

While Jensrud is hoping for more water in the forecast, Jeannette Lake Cabin Owners’ Association president Ray Wilfing would like to see less of it. In 2014, many property owners in the area experienced flooding and he said, since then, water levels have come down only a small amount.

“It’s down a little bit, but not by much,” he noted. “It’s been slowly going down this spring and it will more than likely keep going down if we don’t get any rain.”

Jeanette Lake doesn’t have a natural drainage system to move water away, so its levels are determined by the amount of precipitation in the area. There are about 50 cabins situated along the shores of the lake with 10 used as permanent residences.

However, levels are expected to keep dropping according to Water Security Agency spokesperson Patrick Boyle. He said the organization uses data from Environment Canada to forecast precipitation which has led them to believe the trend will continue for the rest of 2015. Also, since July tends to have the most rain, the situation could change depending on the weather during that month.

“Ever since 2011, we’ve been seeing above-normal precipitation and, right now, we’re seeing a shift,” Boyle added. “But, we all know one weather system or major storm can change all of that.”

As for the large variation in water levels, he said every area is unique and regions could experience more rain or snowfall than others. Boyle also noted the runoff is different throughout the Northwest.

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