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> Low Water Levels, Any cause for concern?
ZzzAngler
Posted: Apr 06, 2021 - 09:33 am


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In the 6 years I have lived on Lake Nipissing's South Shore I have never seen the water level this low. Although it is not completely clear of ice, there is a lot of open water and it doesn't appear that there is a lot of run off left from the snow melt. I'm wondering if the low levels may impact the fishing or boating? I'm hoping those with more years of experience on the lake chime in with their opinions on whether there is any cause for concern.

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Neil
Posted: Apr 06, 2021 - 11:03 am


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I have been recording the water level for 10 years and the level was only higher than it is today three times before todays date. That said I agree that the runoff into the lake is slowing down already so unless we get some rain we will be in for a low level. They have started reducing the flow out of the lake which is currently less than half of what the peak was last year and a quarter of what the flow was two years ago when we had the high water.
You can look up trends for lakes and rivers all over Canada at the link below.
https://wateroffice.ec.gc.ca/google_map/goo...nce&province=ON
I have also attached a picture of a chart showing the data I have been collecting over the past 10 years. It might be small and hard to see. The Y axis is meters above sea level and the X axis is weeks of the year.

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ZzzAngler
Posted: Apr 06, 2021 - 03:04 pm


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Wow. I am very surprised the lake is at normal levels or higher. On our shoreline there is currently about 20 feet of sand beach exposed which is normally covered with water when the ice goes out. Maybe itís because the ice is going out earlier this year that the beach is exposed when normally it would still be snow covered. I am hoping that the lake levels continue to rise to normal levels and doesnít just stop because of lack of snow melt and run off. It could make launching and docking your boat quite difficult and hopefully it doesnít have a detrimental impact on the walleye spawn.

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Northhunter
Posted: Apr 07, 2021 - 08:28 am


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Early break-up this year. This time last year she was still ice covered. So it's gonna be low, but rain will bring it up fast. Question is how much will we get?


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Grumpa
Posted: Apr 07, 2021 - 01:26 pm


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How fast and high Nipissing fills in the spring is almost entirely dependent on inflows from the catch basin surrounding the lake.
Nipissing drains a watershed of 5000 sq mi...the Sturgeon, South and Veuve are the main inflows...and of course the French the primary outflow.
The depth of the winter snow pack and more importantly the water content of the snow load, in the drainage basin, determines the inflows and how high the water levels will get each spring.
Spring precipitation can add to the inflows but the melting snow pack surrounding the lake, particularly north of the lake...is the primary contributor to lake water levels each year.
Average ice free date is normally around the end of April.
The lake was declared ice free quite early in 2012, around April 11th I think. But the peak lake level wasn't much different that year then most.
The only thing a warmer spring and early ice out means, for certain, is that the lake will reach it's peak level a bit earlier in the season.
Precipitation through the winter, and spring, has the biggest bearing on lake water levels.

In the past 15 years I saw two very high years (2019 the highest by far) and 2 low years...somewhere around 2010 was the lowest...Neil will likely know the exact year better.
And as Neil also pointed out they're already decreasing the outflows at the dams on the French.
Water levels normally start rising a few cms a day now until the late May...with the snow melt continuing farther north.
By comparision, in 2019, they declared a flooding state of emergency May 9th...but water levels didn't peak till the last week in May, first week of June, that year.
My gut tells me based on precipitation this past winter and already this spring, water levels 'could be' lower this year.
But I've seen this before, with dam management, what seems to start excessively low ends up being relatively normal come July.
The two water management groups that monitor the lake and the surrounding drainage basin...try to maintain about an 18" range in the lake's summer water levels, for seasonal boating requirements.

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Neil
Posted: Apr 08, 2021 - 04:22 pm


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The data I have only goes back to 2012 but I do remember the low year you speak of Grumpa. I do not recall the exact year but we were renting a place at the bottom of Fish Bay back then for the summer and I had to motor in so far and shut the engine off and run back and pull it up out of the water and drift into the dock. We had to paddle out before lowering the motor as well when heading out. It was an 85hp Mercury that did not have trim tilt on it.

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Northhunter
Posted: Apr 08, 2021 - 04:55 pm


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Low water year was 2010.

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smalleye99
Posted: Apr 10, 2021 - 05:47 pm


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2010 was the lowest level in early summer since the mid 80's as far as I can recall. Ice was out early all over the watershed and no rain to speak of. It was the same in the NW of the province as we fished the Nipigon R (was implementing the minimum flow regs) and Lake Nipigon. Water was scarce everywhere.

Shaping up for another dry one as rain forecast is drying up relative to 2 days ago. The upper reservoirs (Temagami and Red Cedar) are higher than usual for this date as Hydro put plugs in a bit earlier. Only time will tell now.

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Fish_Finder
Posted: Apr 10, 2021 - 07:56 pm


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gotta keep those summer cottagers in muskoka happy and also make sure those folks in Ottawa/Quebec that insist on living on a flood plain are worry free...insurance companies don't like paying out the big flood bux either.

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