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Burntwood, Lower Churchill, and Nelson rivers #7

Spring 2022 water outlook for northern Manitoba rivers

We provide water level and flow outlooks so communities have information on water conditions on the Churchill, Nelson, and Burntwood rivers during the spring melt.*

Map of northern Manitoba showing Churchill, Burntwood, and Nelson rivers with control structures and generating stations.

Map of Churchill, Burntwood, and Nelson rivers with control structures and generating stations.

Enlarge image: Map of northern Manitoba showing Churchill, Burntwood, and Nelson rivers with control structures and generating stations.

Churchill River (Southern Indian Lake to Hudson Bay)

Spring melt continues with flows lower than last year but above average.

Inflows from Saskatchewan to Southern Indian Lake have been increasing due to spring melt and are just over 50,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) (1,415 cubic metres per second (cms)). The level of Southern Indian Lake is higher than normal for this time of year at 846 ft (257.85 m) and will continue to rise. Outflows through Missi Control Structure have been increased to 20,000 cfs (569 cms) to make room for spring meltwater. River flows are above average for this time of year.

Peak flows of about 39,500 cfs (1120 cms) are expected near Churchill in early June. Ice near the Churchill Weir is actively melting, and water levels near the CR30 roadway have peaked. Water levels will continue to decline as the ice deteriorates.

Burntwood River

Much of the Churchill River flow is diverted out of Southern Indian Lake through the Churchill River Diversion via the Notigi Control Structure to the Rat and Burntwood rivers. Flows through Notigi have been reduced further from 34,000 cfs (960 cms) to about 25,000 cfs (715 cms) to lessen flows on the Burntwood River and into Split Lake during the spring melt.

Nelson River

Nelson River flows will rise rapidly over next several weeks.

Heavy precipitation across southern Manitoba is filling Lake Winnipeg and flowing downstream through the Nelson River. Lake Winnipeg water level exceeds 715 ft (217.93 m), requiring Manitoba Hydro to operate Jenpeg at maximum discharge. Jenpeg flows are at about 124,000 cfs (3,500 cms) and will continue to rise. Kelsey flows are at 106,000 cfs (3,000 cms) and will rise with Jenpeg flows.

Split Lake water level, currently at 550.4 ft (167.77m), is expected to rise 3.5 ft by the end of June to almost elevation 554 ft (168.85 m) – and to rise slightly further in July reaching peak levels about one foot lower than those experienced during the 2017 spring flood.


*Spring flows depend on how long it takes for snow to melt (i.e. warm temperatures will cause a fast melt and higher water flows; while cooler temperatures will cause a slow melt and moderate flows for a longer period of time). Conditions can also change rapidly if a large rainfall or snowfall event occurs. Outlook information will be updated as conditions change.

The Outlook is based on a combination of current and forecasted weather data from Environment and Climate Change Canada; recent and historic streamflow conditions based on both federal and Manitoba Hydro data; Manitoba Hydro regulation models for Reindeer Lake and Southern Indian Lake; snow surveys conducted by Manitoba Hydro; and snowpack estimates from satellite data.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact:

Dale Hutchison
Waterway Community Engagement
204-360-3505
WCE@hydro.mb.ca