Manitoba taking steps ‘to mitigate low water conditions,’ says infrastructure minister

·3 min read

Manitoba’s infrastructure minister said on Thursday that record-low precipitation levels continue to plague the province, and have led to record low water levels in several Manitoba waterways.

During a Thursday press conference Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler confirmed the province has seen record low precipitation this spring and summer, and he said that water control structures are now being operated in the province “to mitigate low water conditions.”

According to Schuler, The Red River Valley Basin typically gets approximately 85 millimetres of rain in July, while he said only 12 millimetres has fallen so far this July, with only nine days left in the month.

The region typically sees approximately 104 millimetres of rainfall each June but this year only 62 millimetres of rain fell in June, while in May 70 millimetres of rainfall typically falls, while only to 33 millimetres was recorded in May this year, according to Schuler.

“Flows and water levels are below normal to well-below normal in most southern and central Manitoba rivers and lakes, with dry conditions forecast to continue until fall of 2021,” Schuler said.

Due to the lack of precipitation the province said on Thursday that the Fairford Water Control Structure is currently being operated to balance low water level effects at Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin, while The Shellmouth Dam is being operated to supplement water for the Assiniboine River.

Schuler added that reservoir levels are low at Lake Minnewasta, which is the primary source of drinking water for the city of Morden, and the city is now restricting water usage.

“The city of Morden council declared severe drought conditions on April 8, and implemented water restrictions on May 4,” Schuler said.

Schuler also said the dry weather is wreaking havoc on local farmers and producers as crops struggle to grow, and with not a lot of rain forecasted for the coming days he said the situation is becoming “grim.”

"We still believe that we have enough reservoir water, however, it is getting grim in so far as agriculture, because we started out so dry that even a moderate amount of rain simply gets absorbed and it produces no flow in any of our waterways," Schuler said.

Schuler said if dry conditions persist the province's agriculture minister could declare a serious water shortage under the water protection act which would allow him to “issue an order to prevent, minimize, or alleviate the water shortage.”

MLA Ron Schuler would not answer on Thursday whether or not he has yet received a first or second COVID-19 vaccine.

During a Thursday press conference Schuler, who is Manitoba’s infrastructure minister, was asked several times if he had yet received a first or second COVID-19 vaccine.

Each time he responded by simply saying he would not reveal personal medical information, and stopped short of giving any further information.

“I do not discuss my personal health information publicly,” Schuler said tersely on Thursday.

Earlier this month the province said that two of its MLAs had not had a second dose of a COVID-19 shot, but would also not say if either of the two had the first shot or identify them.

Schuler has not made any public comments stating if he had received a COVID-19 vaccine.

Schuler was also asked if he believes it hypocritical for the province to urge residents to get vaccinated if there are two minsters who have not yet had a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

He answered by saying simply, “My personal health information is a private matter.”

— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun

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