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Most of Sask. could have 'well-below normal' spring runoff conditions

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Below-average snowfall and generally dry conditions last fall currently have the Water Security Agency (WSA) forecasting “well-below normal” runoff conditions for most of Saskatchewan this spring.

“Below-normal” conditions are forecast for parts of southeastern Saskatchewan, including the Regina, Weyburn and Estevan areas, according to a news release from the province.

“Many people in rural Saskatchewan would tell you that they could see this right away, most of the snow pack hasn’t been there,” said Patrick Boyle from WSA.

For producers, the early report is not what they were hoping for and do have some concerns.

The biggest thing is the areas where majority of our cattle are produced, are going into a fourth and fifth year drought,” said Ian Boxall, the President of Agricultural Producers Association of Sask.

The province says despite that, major water supply reservoirs in southern Saskatchewan are mostly at or above normal levels, except Avonlea and other areas in the southwest.

According to the province, the WSA is currently taking proactive measures and has been keeping water levels at Lake Diefenbaker 3.5 metres higher than normal throughout the winter, which it says will help maintain water levels in the event of low mountain runoff this spring.

The WSA is also maintaining higher winter levels at other major reservoirs, to store as much water as possible, the province said.

(Saskatchewan.ca, Water Security Agency)

“Long-range forecasts predict near-normal precipitation and warmer temperatures than usual across Saskatchewan from February to April, with the southern areas experiencing the highest temperature increases,” the province said in the release.

The WSA says data is collected at roughly 300 different monitoring sites around the province.

“A full runoff report in March will be released once additional data is collected from snowpack surveys across the province, and regular updates throughout the spring,” the province said.

Boyle said much of the province’s snow comes in February and March and there is still much winter to come. These predictions could be altered any day.

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