Lake Winnipeg to get worst of flood

Agriculture adds to problem Researcher warns of damages from lost wetlands

John Pomeroy is keeping his eye on Lake Winnipeg.


As the flood waters from a late June rainfall that he describes as unprecedented move through to the lake, the Canada research chair in water resources and climate change said that’s where he believes the ultimate impact will be.


He said the short-term impact has been on infrastructure and farmland but the large volume is all flowing to the lake.


“Ultimately it ends up in Lake Winnipeg, which is having a massive problem with too much water and (water) of very poor quality,” Pomeroy said last week.


He said the effect of flooding is a double whammy on the water body.


“I think that’s eventually where we’ll see this disaster culminating, which will be more than a short-term impact.”


Pomeroy led the research team that recently released the results of a study on the Smith Creek watershed in east-central Saskatchewan.


The water from that basin flows into the Assiniboine River, then the Red River, and finally to Lake Winnipeg.


The study noted the buffering effects of wetland storage are being lost because of agricultural drainage.


While farmers might consider them to be obstacles to both farming and economic return, wetland drainage is costing money in other ways.


The 2011 flood, for example, cost Saskatchewan more than $360 million and the 2014 flood is expected to top that.


Some have advocated for more dams and reservoirs but Pomeroy said wetland storage is a lot cheaper and easier.