The Water Security Agency released the preliminary runoff outlook Wednesday, detailing the projected snowmelt runoff across the province based on the conditions on February 1st. This projection is based on the conditions at freeze-up as well as the snowfall that has accumulated over the course of the winter.  

Much of the province is expected to see a below-normal snowmelt runoff, but there are exceptions, including the southeast part of the province. This is due to the slightly above-average snowfall received this year in the Souris basin area, which includes Estevan.  

“Broadly speaking, particularly in the southeast, we’re looking at near normal snowmelt runoff as expected,” explained Sean Osmar with the WSA. “We’re expecting the reservoirs down in the southeast corner there to be pretty much near normal levels.” 

Mild temperatures are expected over the course of the next week, which could see more melting which could change the expectations for the modelling. As well, there could be more precipitation in the next few weeks which would also change the outlook. 

“We’ll continue to monitor as conditions develop here, and we have that snowpack survey data here early in March, and we’ll provide an updated report for what we can expect,” Osmar added. 

The outlook for the complete Souris basin expects the snowmelt runoff response to be near normal above the three reservoirs in the basin – Rafferty Reservoir, Boundary Dam Reservoir and Grant Devine Lake. There are no anticipated drawdowns of the reservoirs, and the only anticipated reservoir releases would be due to amounts required to meet international apportionment obligations.  

The Boundary Dam Reservoir and Grant Devine Lake are expected to fill during the spring runoff, with any excess water from Boundary being diverted to the Rafferty Reservoir.  

Last year, much of the province saw a slower-than-normal melt, which meant much of the water was absorbed by the ground, helping to recharge the soil. A faster melt would see the water runoff into the various bodies of water, which doesn’t necessarily help with recharging the soil. 

As for flooding, things look promising for not just the southeast, but much of the province. For now, at least.  

“It looks like we should expect normal, near normal, some areas will be below normal but we’re not expecting any significant runoff events at this point,” Osmar said. He noted they will continue to watch the runoff from the alpine snowpack as well as any precipitation and provide updates as they become available starting in March.