Despite the severe drought throughout southern Manitoba, there’s still enough water to supply Winnipeg taps for the rest of this year.

Despite the severe drought throughout southern Manitoba, there’s still enough water to supply Winnipeg taps for the rest of this year.

The city is fortunate to have an especially large water source in Shoal Lake, which provides more than what residents require, said Tim Shanks, Winnipeg’s manager of water services.

Shanks said the lake, which spans the Manitoba/Ontario border, is about a foot below its normal seasonal level. While that still reflects a significant loss of water across such a large lake, and marks Shoal’s lowest level since 2012, Winnipeg is not expected to face a water shortage because of it.

Several factors, including guaranteed access to an especially large water source in Shoal Lake, offer Winnipeggers some water security other Manitoba communities don’t have to cope with the lack of rain. On Tuesday, the City of Morden declared an extreme drought and asked residents and businesses to reduce water consumption by more than 30 per cent. (Alex Lupul / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Several factors, including guaranteed access to an especially large water source in Shoal Lake, offer Winnipeggers some water security other Manitoba communities don’t have to cope with the lack of rain. On Tuesday, the City of Morden declared an extreme drought and asked residents and businesses to reduce water consumption by more than 30 per cent. (Alex Lupul / Winnipeg Free Press files)

"We don’t have any issues supplying daily water demands and don’t anticipate any issues during this year," said Shanks.

The city also has backup options for its water supply, should extremely dry weather continue into next year. Since Winnipeg didn’t grow as fast as it was expected to when its aqueduct was completed in 1919, it has extra capacity, Shanks said.

Winnipeggers also tend to conserve water, which helps ensure capacity, he said.

Shoal Lake, which spans the Manitoba-Ontario border, supplies Winnipeg's water.

Shoal Lake, which spans the Manitoba-Ontario border, supplies Winnipeg's water.

"Winnipeggers have reduced their per capita water use significantly since the 1980s… We’re about 30 per cent less than the average Canadian per capita water demands," said Shanks.

"That helps a lot in terms of the environment. It also helps a lot in terms of being able to maintain the use of (our) existing water supply structure."

Recorded water levels, in feet, at the Shoal Lake intake that supplied Winnipeg's water. (City of Winnipeg)

Recorded water levels, in feet, at the Shoal Lake intake that supplied Winnipeg's water. (City of Winnipeg)

These factors offer Winnipeggers some water security other Manitoba communities don’t have to cope with the lack of rain.

On Tuesday, the City of Morden declared an extreme drought and asked residents and businesses to reduce water consumption by more than 30 per cent.

Joyanne.pursaga@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @joyanne_pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga
Reporter

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.

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