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'Down about three feet': Lake Winnipeg water down significantly compared to years past

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People who were out on Lake Winnipeg over the long weekend may have noticed it was different than usual.

Water levels are noticeably lower as drought conditions continue for a second straight year.

"She's down about three feet, compared to what it was," said Richard Bjarnason, who has been a commercial fisherman on the lake since 1962.

It's not just those who use the lake that are paying attention to the dramatic difference.

Peter Kilcollins who lives near the lake said it is much lower compared to years past.

"The water moves, depending on the wind, and when we get a south wind, this will empty this basin out. This was all rocks on the weekend," said Kilcollins.

Two years ago, water levels on Lake Winnipeg were significantly higher.

"The water was constantly coming over here. I rebuilt my fire pit area eight times” Kilcollins recalled.

Manitoba Hydro uses the flow of water on Lake Winnipeg for power generation. A spokesperson told CTV News Winnipeg that Hydro has been dealing with drought conditions throughout the watershed due to low precipitation since the spring of 2023.

They noted water inflows to the system basin-wide are lower than normal for this time of year.

However, the spokesperson said levels on the lake have increased about 20 centimetres since reaching a low of about 217 metres in early April.

"I'm sure we will be just fine," said David Olson, another fisherman in the area.

He is confident more water is on the way, and that the last year was an anomaly.

"(The) western Canadian drainage system for Lake Winnipeg is very good. If there's water in Alberta, we will get it at some point, and we'll get it pretty quickly."

Manitoba Hydro said recent precipitation has helped, adding its export commitments will continue to be met.

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