On Saturday, July 2, 2011 the Voyageur Crew paddled about 11 miles of the area north of Lake Winnipeg in Playgreen Lake. According to Wikipedia, Playgreen Lake is a lake in the province of Manitoba in Canada. The lake covers an area of 657 square kilometers and it is a part of the Nelson River watershed. The lake is the ninth largest lake in the province. It is located along the Nelson River some 10 kilometers north from the north end of Lake Winnipeg.
Manitoba Hydro's plans for developing the hydroelectric potential of the Nelson River were based on the idea of using Lake Winnipeg as a natural reservoir. By excavating existing channels to increase the outflow capability of the lake, and by building a control structure to regulate the outflow, adequate minimum flows could be guaranteed for the utility's generating stations built along the Nelson River in northern Manitoba.
Lake Winnipeg is the thirteenth largest lake in the world, and the eleventh largest lake with fresh water. In North America, with a surface area of 24,420 km2, it is the seventh largest lake. Lake Winnipeg collects run-off water from the huge Nelson River drainage basin, which extends from the Canadian Rockies in western Canada to within 19 km of Lake Superior in eastern Canada.
The waters of Lake Winnipeg flow north and leave the lake via the Nelson River, which eventually flows into Hudson Bay. The main tributaries of Lake Winnipeg are the Winnipeg and Saskatchewan rivers. Combined, these two rivers account for 75 per cent of the inflow, while the waters from the Red, Dauphin and Berens rivers, plus other smaller tributaries, make up the remaining 25 per cent.
The natural inflows to Lake Winnipeg are greatest in the spring and summer, due to the snow melt during warmer weather combining with the naturally heavier rainfalls in spring and early summer. By fall, the tributary waters abate as a result of drier conditions. With winter's onset, precipitation falling as snow does not contribute to the runoff.
Because of its large surface area, Lake Winnipeg's level will rise or fall very slowly as a result of the difference between inflow and outflow. Similarly, it takes a long time for the lake's level to drop after flood inflows have receded.
In February 1966, agreement was reached between the province of Manitoba and the government of Canada, allowing Manitoba Hydro to use Lake Winnipeg as a natural reservoir for hydroelectric development on the Nelson River. Work on the Lake Winnipeg Regulation project began in 1970 with the construction of three channels and the Jenpeg Generating Station and Control Structure, which were completed in late 1976.
Regulation is necessary because the natural flow pattern from Lake Winnipeg into the Nelson River is opposite to the energy needs of the province. Manitobans use more electricity in winter than in summer, while the water flow into the Nelson River from Lake Winnipeg in its natural state is less in the winter and more in the summer. In addition, the flow out of the lake depends upon the water level and during the winter upon the degree of obstruction by ice of the Nelson River channels. It was, therefore, necessary to be able to decrease the water outflow from Lake Winnipeg in the spring and early summer in order to make available more outflow in the fall and winter. The Lake Winnipeg Regulation project guarantees winter outflows to ensure that the winter demand for electricity can be met.
The details of the Lake Winnipeg Regulation project included three channels built to substantially increase the winter outflow potential of the lake, construction of Jenpeg Generating Station and Control Structure, and a dam at the outlet of Kiskitto Lake to prevent water from backing up into that lake.
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