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Burntwood, Lower Churchill, and Nelson rivers #8

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 Churchill and Nelson rivers with control structures and generating stations.

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

Enlarge image: Map of Churchill 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 about 68,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) (1,925 cubic metres per second (cms)). The level of Southern Indian Lake is higher than normal for this time of year at 846.4 ft (257.98 m) and will continue to rise. Outflows through Missi Control Structure are forecast to be increased from 20,000 cfs (569 cms) to 25,000 cfs (708 cms) next week to compensate for Notigi outflow reductions. Churchill 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 are being reduced from about 25,000 cfs (708 cms) to 20,000 cfs (569 cms) today to lessen flows on the Burntwood River and into Split Lake.

Nelson River

Nelson River flows will continue to 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 118,000 cfs (3,350 cms) and will continue to rise. Kelsey flows are at 131,000 cfs (3,710 cms) and will rise with Jenpeg flows. Split Lake water level, currently at 551.6 ft (168.13 m), is expected to rise 2.1 ft by the end of June to elevation 553.7 ft (168.77 m) - and to rise slightly further in July reaching peak levels about 1.4 ft 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