Low water levels a hassle for Yellowknife cabin owners

Water levels on some of the lakes around Yellowknife are low, in some cases lower than they've been in 20 years. Some cabin owners are having trouble getting to them this summer.

Some lakes at their lowest levels in 2 decades

Dave Lovell navigates the marshy channel between Vee Lake and Walsh Lake on his way to his cabin on Banting Lake. It now takes him three hours to reach his cabin, rather than an hour and a half. (Kate Kyle/CBC)

Water levels on some of the lakes around Yellowknife are low, in some cases lower than they've been in 20 years.

That means some cabin owners are having trouble getting to their properties this summer.

For Dave Lovell, who owns a cabin on Banting Lake, it's meant trading his 18-foot boat with a 50-horsepower outboard motor for a freighter canoe. And it now takes him twice as long to get into Banting Lake because a channel that was already shallow has dried up completely.

"When I get to Banting Lake I have to take everything out of the one canoe and carry my outboard motor over," Lovell says. "I have another freighter canoe on the other side."

'Pain in the butt'

The N.W.T. Department of Environment and Natural Resources says water levels are lower than average in many lakes and water systems. Prelude Lake, for example, is seeing its lowest water in nearly two decades.

A navigation marker on a rock in Vee Lake is hardly needed, now that water levels in lakes near Yellowknife are lower than usual - in some cases lower than they've been in 20 years. (Kate Kyle/CBC)
Data from the department shows that Yellowknife received less than half the rainfall this year than it usually gets in May and June. And that's after a spring that saw snow levels at 84 per cent of normal. 

Clark Marcino can no longer use his own dock on Prelude Lake. He's launching his boat five kilometres further away at the deeper end of the lake .

"It's a pain in the butt," Marcino said. "It's double the boat ride each way. And so every weekend we are spending more on gas."

Lovell has seen low water cycles before and says it could take several years of above-average rainfall for lakes to recover.

If that doesn't happen, Lovell says he'll have to drive down an old mining road and hike in to his cabin.


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