Burntwood, Lower Churchill, and Nelson rivers #2

Spring 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 started in early May with flows lower than last year but above average. Forecasted spring flows are highly variable at this point in time and will be heavily dependent on weather conditions over the next two months. Churchill River flows at Churchill are estimated to be 140 cubic metres per second (cms) (4,900 cfs) and are forecasted to increase over the next two weeks in response to runoff from snow melt. Flows at CR30 are forecasted to peak in mid-May to early June depending upon the timing of local snow melt and upstream releases from Southern Indian Lake (SIL). Under average conditions, flows are forecasted to peak at approximately 1,100 cms (38,800 cfs) by mid-May.

Outflows through Missi Control Structure are 50 cms (1,700 cfs), following licence minimum winter releases and are projected to increase beginning in mid-May and continue into June. The timing and magnitude of these forecasted changes will be influenced by weather conditions and operations and are subject to change.

Burntwood River

Much of the Churchill River flow is diverted out of SIL through the Churchill River Diversion via the Notigi Control Structure to the Rat and Burntwood rivers. Flows through Notigi are at 780 cms (27,500 cfs) which is slightly lower than last year’s flow of 870 cms (30,700 cfs).

Nelson River

Nelson River flows will continue to rise over the next couple weeks. Lake Winnipeg water level is currently 217.5m ASL (713.6 ft ASL) and is expected to increase slightly higher over the next week. Kelsey flows are at 2,266 cms (80,000 cfs) which is higher than last year 1,733 cms (61,200 cfs). Split Lake water levels are anticipated to stay the same at 167.3 m ASL (548.9 ft ASL).

*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:

Waterway Community Engagement