Ice jams appearing along banks of a southern Sask. lake

Ice jams along lakes and rivers are a common occurrence throughout the spring months in Saskatchewan.

They can be interesting to look at and make good pictures and videos, but they can also cause flooding issues that have the ability to damage structural property and farmland nearby.

Randy Durovick and his wife Debra are long-time cottage owners along Crooked Lake, about an hour-and-a-half drive northeast of Regina.

Ice jamming along the shoreline and high water levels is something they’ve seen before, since becoming property owners there in the mid-1980s. It is happening again this year, not far from the Durovick’s cottage.

“I know everybody is aware we had a very long winter and a cool spring with some late storms that brought heavy snow and some rain,” Durovick said.

“It’s been a long spring with the thaw being slow and with that we’ve had very high water levels this year that came down the system and really raised the level of Crooked Lake.”

On its website, the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency (WSA) said ice jams form as warmer temperatures bring increased flows from melt and runoff, because channel systems still have ice at the same time.

WSA also said that ice jams can be highly dynamic and result in rapid changes in water levels, adding there is no reason for anyone to ever walk out onto an ice jam.

It also said ice jams can cause flooding issues upstream from where the jam is taking place.

Durovick recalled at least twice over the years they’ve experienced severe flooding issues, either from ice jams or high water levels in the lake come springtime. Those two memorable floods came in May of 2011 and July 2014.

“So in those two major floods we probably had close to two-and-a-half feet of water on our main level in the one flood,” he said, adding it caused major damage to their cottage and landscaped property in the area.

Drawing from past experiences, Durovick said the high water level combined with ice jamming can quickly create major problems in the area.

He also said the WSA has had the dam structure on Crooked Lake fully open, which is helping to drop the water level somewhat. It’s something he said they certainly appreciate the provincial government paying attention to.

“I know cottage owners along Crooked Lake have been concerned about high water levels and the potential for ice jams and floods. We hope Mother Nature will take care of us and nobody will have any damage to their properties or cottages.”