Lake of the Woods Control Board Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


QUESTION:  Why were water levels low in the summer and fall of 2006?
ANSWER:  In 2006, rainfall in the spring, summer and early fall was well below normal. As a result, inflow to Lake of the Woods for the four month period June through September was the third lowest on record since 1916. Inflow for this period averaged only 95 m/s, about one-quarter of the median amount (378 m/s) and about one-tenth of the amounts received in the recent wet years 2001 and 2002 (951 and 965 m/s respectively) for the same four month period. Thus, even with significant reductions in lake outflow, the lake level fell through the period.

Given the below normal inflow, some have asked why the outflow from the lake was not reduced earlier (outflow was reduced from near 600 down to 200 m/s in steps over the month of June, and eventually down to 100 m/s). There are two main reasons. The first is the need for the Board to consider all interests and all areas under its mandate. While an earlier reduction might have kept Lake of the Woods levels higher, it likely would have been very harmful to the spring fish spawn in the Winnipeg River, based on input received from biologists with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Second, the risk of high inflow due to heavy rain is greatest in June and early July. With the lake level still above its median level through to mid-May due to an early and strong snowmelt runoff, decreasing outflow too early or too quickly would have significantly increased the risk of unacceptably high levels.