There are seven Reaches on the river that are managed, one of which is Kamaniskeg. The Kamaniskeg Reach includes the river system from the base of the Bark Lake Dam to Palmer Rapids. Measurement gauges are located at the outflow of Bark Lake, the Barry’s Bay dock and upstream from the Palmer Rapids Dam. The Water Management Plan uses the Barry’s Bay gauge level readings.
River Managers must accurately forecast the amount of water that will be entering the system from it’s headwaters in Algonquin Park to every tributary along the way, a daunting task if objectives are to be met.
Climate is the main factor that influences levels and flows as it provides the main source of water which drains through the watershed. Four long-term climate stations quantify the spatial and temporal variability of precipitation around the watershed. The four long term stations are Combermere, Ottawa Airport, Petawawa National Forestry and Muskoka Airport. The Petawawa National Forestry Station is not active and records end in 1999. The Combermere station is the only active climate station within the basin that has long term records, with published records from 1956. The other nearby stations provide an indication of the variability that surrounds the watershed.
This year: with a much lower snow pack; early thaw; the absence of any significant spring rain; coupled with the requirement to draw down Bark Lake to facilitate the replacement of valves in the Dam, has presented a daunting challenge.
Fortunately Kamaniskeg Lake was not significantly impacted with the level being well within the summer range of 282.91 m Minimum and 283.09 Maximum.
River levels were above, what is known as the Muskrat Range, during January and late May where the requirement is to maintain the River level in the Conroy Marsh within a 0.12 m range. This measurement starts when the ice cap forms over the Marsh and ends when there is open water flow on the York River.
Two other measurements, the flow rate which has been well above the minimum of 10 m3/second and the Whitewater minimum of 25.6 m3/second. Although the Whitewater Minimum is not a compliance requirement under the Management Plan OPG makes all possible efforts to meet it. This measure, which is in effect from mid May to mid October, is there for the benefit of Kayakers on the river below the Bark Lake dam. So far, except for a short period in early June, the flow has met requirements but only barely.
OPG management has confirmed their commitment to manage river levels to the Madawaska River water Management Plan compliance requirements.
Regular water level and flow updates can be found in the OPG River System Data.