Water levels on the Winnipeg River have increased following higher-than-normal rainfall in the Kenora area. Water inflow levels have been at a 1-in-20 year high for this time of the year, for the last two weeks.

Andrew Liddiard at the Lake of the Woods Control Board says that since October 5, there have been seven outflow increases from the Lake of the Woods into the Winnipeg River. As of yesterday, water levels have increased by 46 inches total.

The board has directed multiple smaller flow increases, rather than fewer large increases, to not overwhelm the river and to give property owners time to adjust their docks.

The board’s short-term goal is to lower the lake level in advance of freezing temperatures, then reduce outflow so that river levels also decline before ice begins to form. They say that this approach is taken to reduce the potential for ice to damage shoreline structures when ice forms at higher water levels.

Liddiard adds that when conditions first turned from very dry to wet in September, the ground was dry enough to absorb much of the rain with little effect on the lakes and rivers, but as the wet weather continued the ground became saturated and more of that rain made its way into the lake.

Lake of the Woods levels were below normal for mid-September so there was room to store some of the extra water, but as the rain continued and the dam at Fort Frances released more water, that storage was quickly used up and outflow from Lake of the Woods had to be increased to prevent the lake level from rising too much.

The forecast is calling for normal amounts of rain around Lake of the Woods and areas upstream for the coming days.

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