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Water Supply Conditions and Outlook, July 2016

Accumulated rainfall in June was generally near normal across the province with the exception of an area in west central Saskatchewan extending from Saskatoon up to North Battleford where accumulations were generally 60 per cent of normal.  This area of the province has been persistently dry since the spring snowmelt and has been identified as being in a moderate drought by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.  

The Melfort and Last Mountain Lake areas also saw below normal precipitation in June.  Areas in southeast and southwestern Saskatchewan have been above normal, which is putting them at a higher risk of experiencing high stream flows or localized flooding should a significant rainfall event occur prior to a drying period.  Much of the June precipitation came during the second half of the month when there was significant convective storm activity. 

Going back to April of 2016, precipitation accumulations have been near normal resulting in adequate soil moisture conditions across much of the province.  Only small pockets of surplus or short topsoil moisture conditions are being observed.

Overall, most water supply reservoirs and recreational lakes are at or near normal levels for this time of year with many being near their fill supply levels.  Some reservoirs in southern Saskatchewan are however at below normal levels in response to well below normal snowmelt runoff.  Despite this, all water supply needs are currently being met and are anticipated to be met into next year. 

Flows on the North and South Saskatchewan Rivers coming from Alberta are currently at record lows for this time of year.  This is due to well below normal runoff in the alpine headwaters in Alberta.  Irrigation water use is also well above normal in southwestern Alberta as conditions have been some of the driest on record in certain areas.  This is translating to below normal levels on Lake Diefenbaker, which may be near its peak for 2016, and low flows below Gardiner Dam.   Although inflows are record low, the large storage within Lake Diefenbaker offers a high degree of resiliency and all demands will be served in 2016 aside from a single irrigation project near the upper end of Lake Diefenbaker which requires much higher levels for their intake structure to operate.  Low flows on both the South and North Saskatchewan Rivers are also resulting in low flows on the Saskatchewan River and below normal levels on Cumberland Lake.

The Qu’Appelle Lakes are all near the upper end of their desirable operating ranges except for Round Lake, which is at a near record low.  The Federal Government’s control structure at Round Lake will not be operated until ongoing land control issues between the Federal Government and local First Nations  are resolved.  

To read the full report go to Related Documents in the column to the right.