Sask. runoff forecast warns of dry spring

Farmers who were short of moisture last year might experience much of the same in 2019 if the current spring runoff forecast holds.

The forecast issued March 6 by Saskatchewan’s Water Security Agency indicates an area of well below normal runoff is expected in the middle of the grain belt from just north of Moose Jaw to near Leader and over to Watrous, Wynyard and Leross.

“This area was quite dry in 2018 and the snow pack is below normal,” the agency said in its forecast.

“Some agricultural water supply issues could be present within this area in 2019 if conditions do not improve.”

Most of the remaining agricultural area can expect near normal to below normal runoff, except for a wedge in the northwest. The region, which includes Lloydminster, Meadow Lake, Prince Albert and just north of North Battleford, should see above normal runoff.

Agriculture Minister David Marit said moisture is always a concern, but there is still time for more snow to fall and spring rain to recharge water sources.

“I’m quite hopeful right now that especially in the southwest where we did see a lot of the drier conditions, there’s a significant amount of snowfall,” he said.

Last fall’s rain provided a good moisture reserve in cultivated land, and ranchers have told him they are confident their dugouts will have adequate supply.

Some regions already have more snow than they’ve had in years and more snow this month would help.

“Either it’s going to go into ground moisture for the pastures or the hay crop or we will get some runoff and fill some dugouts,” Marit said.

The WSA said more snow through March would change the forecast.

“However, based on current conditions, well above normal snowfall would be required in March to give rise to flooding concerns over most of the province,” it said.

Water supply from the major reservoirs should be adequate.

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