Lake levels on the rise this year
Tuesday, Aug 01, 2017 04:45 pm
“We’ve got water issues.”
The County of St. Paul’s Director of Community Services Tim Mahdiuk put it succinctly when talking about the challenges this year’s precipitation has brought. With as much as four inches of rain falling within the span of a few days, the ongoing wet spring and summer has posed a challenge to the county in a few ways, whether it’s washed out roads, the ongoing slide at Moose Hills Road, and, alongside beavers building dams, threatening residences with the rising water at Laurier Lake, said Mahdiuk.
“I know the lakes are all up from last year, but as to how much, I couldn’t tell you,” he said. However, park attendants have been hearing that lakes like St. Vincent, Floatingstone, Lac Bellevue and Stoney Lake are all on the rise this year.
While many may have reasons to bemoan the constant precipitations, recreational lake users are rejoicing. Unlike previous years in which dry conditions have seen lakes receding, this year, the County of St. Paul hasn’t been fielding much in the way of complaints about unusable boat launches, said Mahdiuk.
“It’s been a good thing with boat launches. They’re more accessible than they have been in past few years.”
The biggest lake in the region is demonstrating the rise in precipitation.
“It was pretty low last year for sure,” Craig Copeland, mayor for Cold Lake said, about reports at the time of Cold Lake nearing record lows. But the precipitation this year has made a huge difference, he said.
“From January to probably early June-ish, the lake had come up by two and a half to three feet,” he said, noting that is how much he has measured at the head of the pump house station, by the fish hatcheries. “It’s getting to historical highs but we’re not there. We’re coming up in a big way.”
In Long Bay, where walleye and pike do much of their spring spawning, the lake is similarly up, he said. While this is great news for fishing enthusiasts, the issue is that the Martineau River, which feeds into Cold Lake, and Cold River, from which lake discharge flows, are very high, and the ground water and water table is high as well, said Copeland. His concern is what happens next spring if the precipitation continues, and if residences are under threat of flooding.
“Everybody’s benefitting on our system but I would say that no one is going to complain if it stays sunny and dries out.”
Gardeners, farmers hoping for sunshine
Monique Bardal, owner of Owlseye Greenhouse & Gardens, agrees in the wish for warmer and drier conditions.
“We’re definitely seeing stunted growth in gardens. It’s pretty uniform, but it also depends on where you’re at,” she said. “The biggest thing we’re lacking in sunshine.”
Plants are not producing as well under the constant storms, while the moisture and heavy dews of the morning are also providing better conditions for fungi, mold and mildew to grow. Dark spots on the leaves of annuals are a sign of too much moisture, while the impact can also be seen in the fact that fruits like raspberries, strawberries and saskatoons are suffering, either through mold growing, production being down, or not blossoming.
“I see a difference in my peas. The plants are yellowing; they’re not growing as well as they normally do,” she said. While some heat and sunshine will help, it won’t necessarily mean gardens or crops that have been flooded will see a miraculous recovery.
“That’s just gardening and farming in general; you’re at the mercy of the elements,” she says.