THE LEVEL OF THE LAKE THIS YEAR at September 24, 2020 — Update.
The level of Lake Scugog had been very low this summer although now it is not because of many heavy rains. It is slightly above the normal level for this time although well below the all time highs. Low lake levels happened in 2012, then in 2016 and now in 2020. It generally starts with a minimal ‘spring freshette’ based on less than normal snow levels going into spring. The Lake Scugog Watershed was not saturated going into summer and then starting in June there was extremely low levels of precipitation. All logs were put in the Lindsay Dam until the first of July.
Therefore, we experienced a deep drought. It took our lake level down to conditions that worried and inconvenienced people around the lake. (To check the level regularly, see Trent Seven Water Levels https://www.pc.gc.ca/apps/waterlevels/donnees-data?Id=110&lang=en&siteId=100419) It is established by a daily recording at the Caesarea pier and sent automatically to headquarters at the Trent Severn Waterway. You can see the level is now well below the desired 250 m. above sea level. The dam is still now closed and sealed totally and has been for some time.
There is a multi-party Low Water Response committee which includes the Trent-Severn Waterway, Kawartha Conservation, the City of Kawartha Lakes, the Lake Stewards and many other groups. This body has set Scugog as a Level II low water response, whereas in 2016 we were set at Level III. This body only has the ability to recommend.
The Town of Lindsay draws its raw water from the Scugog side of the Lindsay Lock/Dam through two 24 inch diameter pipes. Assumption by the Water Department there based on 2015 statistics that the total water taking in 2015 for the Town of Lindsay was 3,396,881 M3, which if it is assumed that we have a 68 Sq.km surface area for Lake Scugog, this translates to a 2 inch drop in our water level over the year.
Apparent climate cycle:
What is strange is that this climatic condition seems to repeat itself every four years; but what is also strange is that as in the past, this condition may be relatively local. Other areas are experiencing normal or only slightly less rainfall. Above is an historic lack of rainfall chart which indicated that in 2016 the Lake Scugog watershed was singular in the area for experiencing the worst drought conditions or Level 3. (See the central red area on the map.) That appears to be what is happening this year too, with normal conditions at the more northern lakes such as near Bobcaygeon, Port Severn, Chandos Lake and more.
While it is convenient to blame mismanagement of the dam at Lindsay, it is impossible to stockpile water in Lake Scugog in the spring at the dam to be available for later months such as this. The reasons for this is discussed on our website under “OTHER PROJECTS: Dam and Lock at Lindsay.” (https://scugoglakestewards.com/other-projects/the-operation-of-the-dam-at-lindsay/ However, there may be other management issues that should be followed up on later this year, all of which is difficult in these Covid-19 times with many furloughed staff.
Current weather accelerates evaporation in the lake to almost a centimeter a day when the (Information from the former TSW water management engineer) water water is warm, the sun hot and it has been very windy. You can see from the very recent graph that the water level is what it would normally be at the end of August. The dam in Lindsay is not just closed but sealed to stop any outflow from the upstream. If you want to communicate with the Trent Severn Waterway for any questions, you would do that through 1-888-773-8888 or through Ont.TrentSevern@pc.gc.ca.
One additional consideration is that because of various reasons that range from the decomposition of an increased aquatic plant growth, to increased sedimentation from both runoff from the land and increased air borne dirt, the lake is filling in faster than expected. This, of course, causes less navigational depth both in the lake but especially at the shorelines.
We all have to hope that our current drought trend is short lived. More to come as the season progresses.