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Lake Manitoba and things to come

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As a cottager, I can’t imagine for a second what folks at Twin Lakes Beach, Delta, Sandpiper, Dauphin Lake, Oak Lake and everyone else who lives, works and plays along the shores of our lakes, are going through.

Looking at the photos and video from the TLB Association on Facebook and YouTube, to see these family cottages  flooded or destroyed is heartbreaking. Many peoples’ homes are also ruined, including people who’ve retired to enjoy the peace and quiet of a once-beautiful lake. Let’s not forget the First Nations families to the north and all the farmers and ranchers.

I also feel for the Dent family. This photo is what’s left of their cottage at Twin Lakes.

Most days my glass is always half-full, but seeing this and the lousy weather we’ve had so far this spring, I wonder.

That water, and more, is moving through to Lake Winnipeg.

And those of us who’ve watched the lake since little kids know what that means.

As a kid I remember sandbagging the road to the pier at Victoria Beach and fury of activity at the gravel pit near Sandy Bay making even more sandbags.

I shudder to think what it’ll be like in July and August, never mind what will happen in October when the big storms usually hit. The east side of the south basin was hit last October in the "weather bomb." With Lake Winnipeg levels expected to be their highest since 1974 this summer, what does this mean to places like Albert Beach, Winnipeg Beach and Sandy Hook?

On Lake Manitoba, I’m getting a ton of email from TLB, and my cousin and her family have a place at Delta, so I’m aware of the issues.

I know about the Portage Diversion — I flew over it during the height of the flood, covered the daily briefings in the basement of the Leg and met with many people who cottage and live at TLB.

I also know about the Waterhen and Whitemud Rivers, and how the Fairford dam works.

I know about Fishing Lake in Saskatchewan and the Souris River in North Dakota.

On Lake Winnipeg, I know how Manitoba Hydro regulates its level and I know how much water is discharged from the lake through its Jenpeg control structure on the lake’s north end.

I know how much water is coming into the lake from the Winnipeg River, which is controlled by the Norman dam near Kenora, Ont., and how much is coming from the Saskatchewan River near The Pas.

None of it is good.

We can blame government and Hydro all we want for what’s happened this spring and what’s going on our lakes, but it doesn’t change the fact we have too much water. Way too damn much.

It’s been a crappy spring for lots of Manitobans. I fear it’ll be a crappy summer for a lot more.

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About Larry Kusch and Bruce Owen

Larry Kusch has been a journalist for 30 years, the last 20 with the Winnipeg Free Press. His is one of the newspaper's two legislative bureau reporters.

Raised on a Saskatchewan farm, he received an honours journalism degree from Carleton University in 1975.

At the Free Press, Larry has also worked as a general assignment reporter, business reporter, copy editor and assistant city editor.

Bruce Owen joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1990 after four years working in other media.

He's worked in a number of positions at the Freep, including pet columnist, assistant city editor and police reporter. Right now he takes up space at the Manitoba legislature.

Bruce is one of five reporters who won a National Newspaper Award for the paper’s coverage of the 1997 Flood of the Century. He's also the recipient of the 1996 Volunteer Centre of Winnipeg Media Golden Hand Award and the 1995 Canadian Federation of Humane Societies Media Commendation Award.

In a past life Bruce worked at YMCA-YWCA Camp Stephens. He has a blog where he and others write about camp and the people who worked and played there.

You can also find Bruce on Twitter where he posts and retweets all sorts of stuff.

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