Saskatoon

Sask. Water Security Agency hopeful over spring runoff

The Saskatchewan Water Security Agency says spring run-off is happening without incident for much of the province, but there are a few areas of concern.

Early spring means thicker river ice, prone to jamming

Glen Ukrainetz's family farm near Erwood, Sask., saw massive flooding because on an ice dam on the Red Deer River last week. (Glen Ukrainetz/Facebook)

The Saskatchewan Water Security Agency says spring run-off is happening without incident for much of the province, but there are a few areas of concern.

Last week, farms were flooded in east-central Saskatchewan, near Erwood, after ice jams blocked the river. As well, more than 100 people were sent from their homes on the James Smith First Nation.

"The ice is a little stronger this year," agency spokesperson Patrick Boyle told CBC Radio's Morning Edition. "It's pretty early in the scope of spring runoff, and the ice is considerably stronger than it normally would be."

While the agency was hoping for cool temperatures and a gradual melt, last week's flash of hot temperatures sped the melt along.

"Some of our guys in our Nipawin regional office said it was winter in the morning and all of a sudden it was summer in the afternoon," he said. "With those warm temperatures, you really started to see things move."

Some of our guys in our Nipawin regional office said it was winter in the morning and all of a sudden it was summer in the afternoon.- Patrick Boyle, Saskatchewan Water Security Agency

Boyle said peak water levels have already moved past Red Earth First Nation. The reserve's only access road has become flooded many times in the past, making it difficult to access.

Right now, the agency has its eye on the Battlefords, where the Battle River meets with the North Saskatchewan River.

"It's prone to ice jamming," he said. "We did see one last week. And as that ice makes its way through the system, we're going to be watching that moving forward."

Meanwhile in the province's southeast, the Rafferty and Alameda reservoirs are already filling up to summer levels.

Boyle said it was difficult to guess what the rest of the runoff season will look like.

"We're pretty hopeful right now," he said. "But I've learned fairly quickly not to bet on the weather."

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