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 dam 1 on the Little Saskatchewan River 2 near Rivers 3 was built in 1960 by the PFRA as a multi-purpose project but primarily to offer flood protection to Brandon located on the Assiniboine River into which the Little Saskatchewan River flows. A spillway 4 can be seen at the south end of the dam which backs up Lake Wahtopanah 5.[i] As with Minnedosa Lake, so here the recreational potential of the lake has been recognized; Rivers Provincial Park with facilities for camping, picnicking, swimming, and boating is located on the northwestern shore 6, and some cottage development has started at Daly Beach on the opposite bank 7. The town of Rivers now gets its municipal water supply from the lake.
Figure 16.8: Dam and Reservoir at Rivers
Vertical air photograph: A21666-17
Flight height: 23,170 feet; lens focal length: 3.5 inches
Scale: 1:80,200 (approx.)
Date: July 21, 1970
Location: Township 11 and 12; Ranges 20 and 21WI
Map sheets: 1:250,000 62K Riding Mountain
1:50,000 62K/1 Rivers