Lake levels dropping
Great Slave water levels below average

Cindy MacDougall
Northern News Services

NNSL (Oct 08/99) - The water levels in the Great Slave Lake continued to drop below average in September.

The lake's main source of replenishment, the Slave River, has been below normal during August and September because of a dry summer.

This has caused the lake itself to drop 21 centimetres between mid-August to mid-September, from 156.51 metres to 156.30 metres, according to Randy Wedel of the Water Survey of Canada.

Wedel, who works out of Yellowknife, said the drop in water levels is no reason to be overly concerned.

"The lake fluctuates so little in terms of water levels from year to year," he said. "It's not a significant difference."

He said the low water levels will not affect freeze-up very much.

"In fact, when we have high water levels before freeze-up, and then the water drops, we can have the ice hinging to the shore," Wedel said. "We had that problem last year."

Businesses who use the lake aren't very worried about the water drop.

Brett Wolfe, owner of Pier 1 Marines, says his boats and docks haven't been affected by the drop in water levels.

"We have a variance in levels every year from spring to fall," Wolfe said. "It hasn't been a problem for us because most of our system rises and falls with the water."

Larry Burkowski, chief pilot for Arctic Sunwest Charters, said the drop in water hasn't greatly affected take-off, landing or docking in Great Slave Lake.

"As an off-strip pilot, you have to be watching for changes all the time," he said.

"A place may be safe to land one day, and the next time the water's dropped and there's rocks in that spot."

"You can never suppose a place is safe to land," Burkowski said. "You always have to check and double check as you fly over."

He said change is all a part of flying a float plane, and the lakes rise and drop every year.