Souris River drainage in Saskatchewan is reduced

The amount of water being released from three reservoirs that capture snowmelt runoff in the Souris River drainage in Saskatchewan is being reduced.

According to the National Weather Service, flows entering the Souris from Boundary, Rafferty and Alameda Reservoirs was scheduled to be cut from 2,417 cubic feet per second to 2,119 cfs Wednesday. Further cutbacks are likely in the coming days.

The April Spring Runoff Outlook issued by the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency projects the amount of flow in the Souris River where it enters North Dakota to peak at slightly below 3,200 cfs. That contrasts with the latest projections from the NWS that show an 80 percent probability of flows at the Sherwood crossing reaching nearly 4,800 cfs. Both numbers are subject to revision once the snowmelt gets under way.

Of immediate concern to the majority of Souris River watchers in North Dakota is the amount of water entering the Souris through Lake Darling Dam. That amount remained at 2,800 cfs Wednesday. However, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had previously stated its intention to reduce flows out of Lake Darling once the reservoir had dropped to 1,593 feet. Lake Darling was at 1,593.44 and dropping Wednesday.

If the Corps adheres to their previously released schedule, Lake Darling outflows will soon be adjusted so that the reservoir will begin a rise toward the preferred summer operating level of 1,597 feet. The current level is approximately 6 feet lower than at this time in 2011. Overflow at Lake Darling is 1,601.8 feet.

Rafferty and Alameda reservoirs in Saskatchewan have also been lowered several feet in anticipation of what is expected to be a substantial runoff season in southern Saskatchewan. Officials on both sides of the border indicate that the amount of storage in all reservoirs is more than adequate to handle expected runoff.

Minot’s Broadway Bridge gauge showed a river level of 1,544.27 feet Wednesday. Major flood stage there is considered to be 1,555 feet. The latest NWS runoff outlook says the Souris has less than a five percent chance of reaching 1,555 feet at Broadway Bridge.

Other points on the Souris, particularly downstream from Minot, are likely to experience some high water problems in the weeks ahead but there are no indications of a return to the devastating water levels that occurred in 2011.