A million-dollar rain?

Shellmouth dam releasing 10 times the flow

The rain last Thursday and Friday was a million-dollar event, timely as tiny oilseed crops have emerged, with spotty germination in areas. 

It’s difficult to calculate the actual dollars of benefit to agriculture throughout western Saskatchewan and Manitoba, considering what’s to be lost as crops and pastures cry for rain. Not only seed crops but forage, hay, pasture and water supplies were in jeopardy as of last week, putting pressure on livestock operations as well.

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More rain is needed again soon.

Environment Canada records from weather stations around southwest Manitoba vary in rain amounts between the June 10 – 12. In southwestern Saskatchewan Estevan and Broadview each record 40 and 50 mm respectively.

Morden, already suffering from a water shortage, recorded less than a half-inch of rain.

Melita station showed about 45 cm or nearly 2 inches, while Elkhorn station recorded 7.26 cm or nearly 3 inches of rain and Shoal Lake recorded 7.8 cm. over the two days.

North of Kenton, puddles remain on June 14, but there’s little surface moisture seen in the light soil around Virden. Crops, however, are showing their appreciation – some recently emerged and other more advanced crops, with some cereal crops in the multi leaf stage and looking great.

Water is flowing over the Shellmouth Dam at a rate 10 times greater since the weekend as the province opened the sluice gates to send water deeper into the province.

Manitoba Infrastructure’s Hydrologic Forecast Centre reported the outflow from the Shellmouth Reservoir at 52 cubic feet per second (cfs) last week, prior to the rain.

The upper watershed of the Assiniboine River received heavy rain last week as well. By June 14, the Assiniboine River in the Virden Valley has visibly risen. That flow will continue as the watershed transports the recent precipitation.

The Assiniboine River fish will be happier as the outflow was to increase to 500 cfs. A two-to-three-foot level increase was predicted on the Assiniboine River from Shellmouth to Russell and one-to-two-ft. level increase from Russell to Brandon, and less than a foot as the river reaches Winnipeg.

© Virden Empire-Advance