Rising water levels at Manitou Beach, a resort community in central Saskatchewan, are generating concerns among local community members and leaders.
Little Manitou Lake, a small saltwater lake, is a popular tourist destination about 125 kilometres southeast of Saskatoon.
'We just have no beaches left.' - Gerry Worobec
According to locals, the lake has reached its highest level ever noted. Community leaders say the situation is a concern.
"We're at a very crucial point here," Gerry Worobec, mayor of Manitou Beach, said Thursday.
According to Worobec, in 1965 the lake was 491 metres above sea level. The average, he said, is around 495 metres.
"Presently we are at 497.5 metres," he said. "So that's eight to 10 feet above normal ... it's remarkable."
He said erosion is very noticeable, especially on the north shore of the lake.
"We just have no beaches left," Worobec said. "The lake is right to the highway that runs east and west through the village."
Rain, he said, is a major concern.
"We're right at our limit," Worobec said.
"We just had a five-inch rain a couple of Mondays ago. The lake came up five inches, so now it's almost level with the highway that used to go east of the beach."
He said the beach remains a popular destination spot despite concerns about the water.
"It was shoulder-to-shoulder people on every spare little square inch of dirt that we've made available," Worobec said about the recent long weekend, noting the village has hauled in many truckloads of sand to improve the beach area.
Among the challenges, he said, is ensuring lake water stays out of the sewer and water systems.
Height of proposed berm is an issue
He said the province is proposing that a berm, built several years ago, be made higher. That's another point of concern for Worobec.
"The footprint on that would be so incredibly wide that it would just completely disrupt our tourism and everything along the main drag of Manitou Beach," he said. "So, we need to find a compromise."
Worobec suggested a berm, about one half the proposed height, could be made with a flat top and include a walking path.
He also expressed concern about the expense associated with a berm rise, which he estimated could cost the village $1 million.
"That's got to be paid for somehow. We can't keep putting up taxes," he said, worried that people may choose to move out. "There's just going to be people heading out the door."
Worobec said consultations with provincial authorities are underway to determine how to handle the situation.
He said the village council wants to preserve as much beach as possible.