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Burntwood, Lower Churchill, and Nelson rivers #9

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 has largely passed and flows are high.

Inflows from Saskatchewan to Southern Indian Lake are on the decline and are at about 64,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) (1,813 cubic metres per second (cms)). The level of Southern Indian Lake is at 847.1 ft (258.18 m) and is expected to rise only slightly more. Outflows through Missi Control Structure were recently raised to about 30,000 cfs (836 cms) in response to a flow decrease at Notigi and local rainfall. Additional flow increases are planned over the weekend to reach 55,000 cfs (1,557 cms) by Sunday June 12 to keep the level of Southern Indian Lake from going much higher. Churchill River flows are high and very similar to flows this time last year.

Ice in the vicinity of the Churchill weir has melted, and water levels near the CR30 roadway have peaked. Flows remain high due to recent rainfall and Missi releases.

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 at 20,000 cfs (569 cms) – they were reduced recently to lessen flows on the Burntwood River and into Split Lake.

Nelson River

Nelson River flows will continue to rise rapidly over the next couple 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 133,000 cfs (3,757 cms) and will continue to rise. Kelsey flows are at 143,000 cfs (4,045 cms) and will rise with Jenpeg flows. Split Lake water level has risen over 7 feet since last fall and is currently at 552.7 ft (168.46 m). It is expected to rise another 2.4 ft by mid-July and peak at elevation 555.1 ft (169.19 m) – this level is about 0.7 ft lower than 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