July 13, 2018 12:02 pm
Updated: July 14, 2018 12:22 pm

Boaters, swimmers hampered by low water levels on Lake Winnipeg

The warm weather, while welcome, could be causing problems than you might think. In lakeside towns like Gimli, the mayor says water levels are the lowest level they've been in years. Global's Nolan Kowal reports.

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It’s been a tough summer season for swimmers and boaters on Lake Winnipeg.

READ MORE: Millions of zebra shells wash up on shores of Lake Winnipeg

Just months following a massive infestation of zebra mussels on the shores of the lake, lake-goers are dealing with another problem.

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“The water level is the lowest I’ve seen in 20 years,” said Gimli Mayor Randy Woroniuk.

Woroniuk said boaters have had difficulty launching their boats, some even hitting reefs and rocks that aren’t usually in play when the water level is normal.

“There are rocks in front of my place that I didn’t know existed,” said Woroniuk, who has lived in the community for 2 decades.

“Boaters are finding reefs that they used to just sail over or boat over. Now that’s not happening.”

Devin Catton was out boating with his kids on Friday in Gimli when the propeller on his motor collided with a rock.

“We hit some rocks and some sand in a place that’s normally covered with water,” he said.

The consensus among people in Gimli is that the water is three feet lower this year than last, mainly due to dry weather.

“[It’s because of] the drought, and last winter no snow,” said commercial fisherman Robert T. Kristjanson. “All rivers are completely way down, every creek is down.”

Sail boats are particularly at risk because their hulls extend deeper down into the water than pleasure or fishing boats.

READ MORE: Winnipeg teen getting ready for 2-month solo kayak trip on Lake Winnipeg

One factor that could bring the level back up is the wind. A prolonged north wind can sometimes raise the water level by at least three feet. But the recent hot, dry weather has brought consistent south winds, which keep the lake lower.

Swimmers on the main Gimli beach have also been forced to go out farther than normal to get into deep enough water to swim in.

The reeve of Victoria Beach even said on Friday there have been injuries to kids swimming on the east side of the lake or jumping off the pier.

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