Manitoba has an abundant supply of surface water with many large lakes and thousands of smaller ones (chapter 2). However, much of the water is in the north or drains to the north where there is a sparse population. In the south dams and reservoirs have been constructed to conserve water in some areas, whereas in other places projects were designed to drain water from the land to make it suitable for cultivation. The province’s rivers offered enormous potential for hydroelectric power, much of which has now been exploited, starting with a small-scale project on the Little Saskatchewan River and progressing to large projects on the Winnipeg, Saskatchewan and Nelson rivers. Two thermal power stations at Brandon and Selkirk on the Assiniboine and Red rivers illustrate the need for an assurred water supply. Flooding has been a problem since the earliest days of the province, especially along the Assiniboine and Red rivers culminating in the 1997 “Flood of the Century” in the Red River Valley. Dams, diversions and ring dikes are used to divert the floodwaters to less critical areas.
The Grand Rapids Dam 1, on the Saskatchewan River was the first major hydro station built in “northern” Manitoba to supply the south. With a fall of 36.5 metres it has the greatest head of any Manitoba hydro station. It was completed in 1968 and has a capacity of 472,000 kw. The dam built up water behind it into Cross Bay 2, necessitating the building of dikes 3 to prevent water overflowing onto surrounding land. The Saskatchewan River 4 now flows to the south of the forebay with Ukamasahaw Point 5 between the two water bodies.
Google Earth Image 2006 Terra Metrics
Scale: 1:109,000 (approx.)
Location: Township 48: Range 13 WI
Map sheets: 1:250,000 63G Grand Rapids
1:50,000 63G/13 Davidson Lake