Lakes and Rivers

South Saskatchewan River Project


Lake Diefenbaker is the largest body of water in southern Saskatchewan.  It was formed by two dams, the Qu’Appelle River Dam and Gardiner Dam.  The Qu’Appelle River Dam controls flows in the Qu’Appelle River and the Gardiner Dam controls flows in the South Saskatchewan River.  The dams were officially opened June 21, 1967.  The 64-metre tall, 5,000-metre long Gardiner Dam took nearly nine years to build and is one of the largest earthfill dams in the world.

What is the South Saskatchewan River Project?

The project consists of the Gardiner Dam, located on the South Saskatchewan River, 25 kilometres downstream of Elbow, and Qu’Appelle River Dam, located 19 kilometres southeast of Elbow and 45 kilometres southeast of Gardiner Dam.  It also includes Lake Diefenbaker, a 225-kilometre long multi-purpose reservoir which serves many varied interests.

What is the capacity of the reservoir?

The Full Supply Level of Lake Diefenbaker is 556.87 metres. At Full Supply Level, the reservoir stores approximately 9,400,000 cubic decametres of water.

What are some of the uses of Lake Diefenbaker?

In addition to being a major recreation facility, Lake Diefenbaker provides domestic water for approximately 60 percent of Saskatchewan people.  Water is also stored for use by several potash mines, 4 major irrigation projects, various industries and wildlife interests.  The lake also plays an important role in power generation and flood control.

Who owns the South Saskatchewan River Project?

The Water Security Agency owns and operates the South Saskatchewan River Project and is directly responsible for its operation and maintenance.  The Water Security Agency also owns Rafferty and Alameda dams in southeastern Saskatchewan and operates and 65 other dams throughout the province.