The gates at Lake Darling Dam were opened a bit more Wednesday, increasing the amount of water being released into the Souris River above Minot to 800 cubic feet per second. The release rate had been 700 cfs for about 48 hours prior to Wednesday's increase.
According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in St. Paul, Minn., further changes in the amount of water being released from Lake Darling will be based on information contained in future runoff forecasts. The National Weather Service may issue a new hydrologic outlook for the Souris River Basin next week. The previous outlook was issued March 21. It is expected an updated Saskatchewan runoff forecast will be made public sometime in early April. To date, none of the outlooks have projected that upcoming runoff into the Souris will develop into anything other than very minor flooding at limited locales.
The increase in outflow from Lake Darling to 800 cfs approximates the amount of flow being released from Rafferty Reservoir near Estevan, Sask., and Alameda Reservoir near Oxbow, Sask. Rafferty backs up flows on the Souris River. Alameda is located on Moose Mountain Creek, a major tributary that joins the Souris immediately south of Oxbow.
Recent releases from Lake Darling have dropped the level of that reservoir about .7 (seven-tenths) of a foot in seven days. The level of Lake Darling was 1,595.11 feet Wednesday. The preferred summer operating level of Lake Darling is 1,596 feet. Both Rafferty and Alameda Reservoirs are slightly below their March 1 levels and remain within the spring runoff guidelines as established by international agreement.
The NWS, which has issued a Flood Warning for the Souris River at Baker's Bridge, reminds people to stay off Souris River ice downstream from Lake Darling due to increased flows which weaken ice. The NWS also cautions that rapid river fluctuations could result from ice jams once ice on the river begins to break up and flow downstream.
The Souris at Baker's Bridge reached 10.6 feet late Wednesday morning and is forecast to reach 10.7 feet and remain at that level until changes are made in releases from Lake Darling. Flood stage at Baker's Bridge is 10 feet, a level often obtained at this time of year. Minor rural flooding at Baker's Bridge begins when the river reaches 12 feet.
A flood watch was issued by the NWS for the Souris River near Sherwood where the river enters the U.S. from Canada. The Souris at that location has risen from just over three feet one week ago to 11 feet on Wednesday. Flood stage at the Sherwood crossing is 18 feet.