Saskatchewan spring runoff higher than expected: WSA

The Water Security Agency’s preliminary outlook for the spring is a below-normal runoff potential for areas affected by drought in 2021.

Saskatchewan’s Water Security Agency (WSA) spring runoff report highlighted a higher than expected runoff.

A government press release said the higher runoff is helping to refill many of the reservoirs that were low after last summer’s “extended period of high heat and low precipitation.”

According to the report, the runoff started in the middle of March in the southwest corner of the province and is continuing eastwards and northwards.

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“A slower melting period with below freezing temperatures at night and cool daytime temperatures is helping keep runoff in channels with a low risk for flooding expected,” the release added.

In the Moose Jaw, Swift Current and Old Wives’ basins, higher runoff has helped replenish water supply reservoirs.

As for the Maple Creek, Battle Frenchman and Lodge Creek basins, runoff is below normal but still higher than expected. Bigstick basin remains below normal.

Ice in the channel of the Qu’Appelle system is causing higher than expected water levels throughout the system.

The WSA is monitoring the situation as ice jamming remains a possibility.

“Diversions into Last Mountain Lake are challenging due to the ice and some flow is being passed downstream on the Qu’Appelle River to prevent flooding upstream of Craven. With the exception of Last Mountain Lake, WSA expects all the lakes in the Qu’Appelle system to reach desirable summer levels.”

The release added that while the snowmelt is reducing the runoff potential in areas with snow, a rapid melt may produce higher than expected runoff in some areas.

“The slower melt (and) the cooler temperatures we’ve seen so far have really helped to make sure the melt is going smoothly,” WSA spokesperson Sean Osmar said.

“We haven’t seen any real concerns for ice jamming or flooding at this point and as long as these conditions continue, we expect to see more of the same,” Osmar added.

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WSA expects strong flows along the South Saskatchewan River due to still higher than normal alpine snowpack. According to the WSA, this will also help bring levels at Lake Diefenbaker up to “desirable” levels for the summer, as well as improve conditions and hydro generation.

Spring melt and runoff are in the early stages further north and WSA doesn’t expect significant changes to the March forecast unless conditions change dramatically in the event of rapidly warmer temperatures.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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