Buffalo Lake Component of the Water Management Plan
Pumping Season – Pumping typically occurs during the open water season, starting on or around May 1 and continuing until around Oct 31 each year. Operation of the pumps is subject to Red Deer River water quantity and quality, the water levels inBuffaloLake, or possible flood events within the system.
Water Quality – Pumping will not occur during periods of high flow in theRed Deer River when there is a significant silt load in the river. High silt content in the river rapidly deteriorates the pumping system, and deposits material in the channels and water bodies along the system.
Fish Screen – during pumping operation, a fish screen will be kept in place to avoid the transfer of fish from theRed Deer River into the Parlby Creek-Buffalo Lake system. An automated travelling water screen system was installed at the pumphouse in 2009-2010 to reduce the man hours required for screen cleaning and prevent shut downs due to intake screen blockage.
The Buffalo Lake Component of the water management project includes Buffalo Lake, Tail Creek Weir and Channel. The water diverted from the Red Deer River enters the lake at Parlby Bay and then flows through the Narrows into the main portion of BuffaloLake. Water from BuffaloLakewill flow into Rockeling/Rider bays (at the northeast end of the lake) when higher levels are reached. Tail Creek is the outlet of BuffaloLake that flows into the Red Deer River.
Diversion of water from the Red Deer River will occur until the water levels in Buffalo Lake reach the elevation of 780.85 metres or the channel capacity is reached. Once the maximum elevation has been reached, pumping will stop until lake levels recede to 780.60 metres. The fluctuation of 20 cm is intended to encourage a diversity of aquatic plant growth along the shoreline of Buffalo Lake. The pumping program will re-initiate once the lake level drops to the lower elevation (780.60 metres). Water diversion from the Red Deer River may occur when the lake is at Full Supply Level (780.60 metres) in order to meet needs within the conveyance system for, backflooding, or fish and wildlife benefits along the Parlby Creek component of the system.
Rockeling Bay Structure – Rockeling Bay and Rider Lake are located in the northeast corner of Buffalo Lake. At higher water levels, water can flow between BuffaloLake and Rockeling Bay. The wetlands located onRockeling Bay and Rider Lake support a breeding population of endangered piping plovers and several waterfowl species.
The North American Waterfowl Management Plan and their agent, Ducks Unlimited, proposed the construction of a water conveyance works from Buffalo Lake into Rockeling Bay and Rider Lake. At present the Rockeling Bay–RiderLake project has been delayed because the department has not been able to secure land affected by increased water levels.
In the event that land can be secured, the Rockeling Bay control structure could be operated to periodically allow water to flow into Rockeling Bay when Buffalo Lake is at elevation 780.85 metres. It is anticipated that flooding of Rockeling Bay andRider Lake would occur only once every second or third year.
Tail Creek Structure – the structure is a sheet pile fixed crest weir that controls the water level in Buffalo Lake at the elevation 780.85 metres. The weir is designed at a fixed elevation and cannot be operated to affect water levels in the lake. In the event of water levels above 780.85 metres, the water will spill over the weir and flow into the Red Deer River via Tail Creek.
Tail Creek Channel Maintenance – The channel of Tail Creek below Buffalo Lake will be monitored and maintained to allow water passage during periods of high water levels
Tail Creek Channel Right of Way – The right of way will be monitored for terrestrial weed growth and control measures implemented as necessary. Maintenance of the fencing along the right of way is a shared responsibility between the Department and adjacent landowners.
Farm Crossings – Farm crossing are located along Tail Creek to allow access to farmland bisected by the channel. Maintenance of the farm crossing is the responsibility of the Department.
RESPONSE TO FLOOD EVENTS
Parlby Creek Portion – When the diversion pumps are operating, a major rainstorm in the Parlby Creek drainage area could result in flooding within the system. In the event of a major storm event, all pumping will be stopped until the natural water flows have returned to normal levels. Instrumentation along Parlby Creek is monitored to manage channel flows and monitor local rainfall. The Mirror, Spotted and Carlyle structures are usually left open after the backflood is completed to accommodate any potential flood events.
Buffalo Lake Portion – If a major storm event or events cause the lake to exceed 780.85 metres when the pumps are in operation, the pumping program will stop until water levels have receded to 780.60 metres. The 1:100 Year flood elevation forBuffaloLake has been calculated to be 781.20 metres. The Province of Alberta acquired shoreline around the lake to provide protection to the elevation 781.20 metres. The Tail Creek weir is a fixed crest weir at 780.85 metres and is designed to pass the 1:100 year flood. The Department has no ability to mitigate flooding events on BuffaloLake by releasing additional water over the weir.
The Parlby Creek-Buffalo Lake Water Management project may not be able to maintain the target water levels in Buffalo Lakeduring various weather and lake level conditions, primarily due to evaporation. However, applications to divert or withdraw from the system which do not fall within the objectives for the project (see Page 2 of the Plan) should be evaluated under the conditions stated below. Any applications to remove water from the system or perform any other works that could potentially impact the water would require an approval from Alberta Environment, Regulatory Approvals section.
Water Levels – An automatic gauging station at Rochon Sands monitors the water levels in Buffalo Lake. Please visit Alberta Rivers website
Lake Water Quality Monitoring – Lake water quality will be monitored on an ongoing basis.
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