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.
With a capacity of 1,272,000 kw, the Kettle Rapids Power Station on the Nelson River is the second largest in Manitoba behind only the Limestone Station about 20 miles (32 km) downstream. Its capacity is increased by the diversion of water into the Nelson River from the Churchill River further north. Shown on the photo are the dam 1 across the Nelson River 2 and its expansion, Stephen’s Lake 3. Kettle River 4 and Boots Creek 5 drain to the Nelson. The town of Gillam 6 (population 1,209 in 2006) grew up essentially to build the Nelson River dams. The Hudson Bay Railway Line 7 that crosses the Nelson 8 en route to Churchill to the north connects it to the south. Also planes land at the airstrip north of town 9, and PR 280 10 links Gillam with Long Spruce and Sundance further downstream. South of the dam is a converter station 11 with power lines radiating out to the north 12, southeast 13, south 14, and southwest 15. They are identified as light-toned straight lines cutting across the natural landscape on which, even in mid-June, there are snow patches 16.
Vertical air photograph: A27821-78
Flight height: 25,500 feet a.s.l.; lens focal length: 152.849 mm
Scale: 1:50,000 (approx.)
Date: June 14, 1992
Location: Township 85; Range 18 and 19E
Map sheets: 1:250,000 54D Kettle Rapids
1:50,000 54D/7 Kettle Rapids