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Good Spirit Lake Scour Hole

Good Spirit Lake is a large shallow lake (11,120 acres) located inside a provincial park north of Yorkton, Saskatchewan. Spirit Creek feeds into the lake from the north with an outlet that controls the lake water levels located on the south-east part of the lake. The water at the outlet runs through a channel and into a tributary of the Whitesand River. The control structure releases water in high water years until the lake reaches its desired level. The outlet channel is approximately two meters in depth, but over the years a four meter washout 70 meters by 20 meters in diameter has developed near the outlet (due in large part to the flooding the lake experienced in 2010 and 2011). Fish in the Whitesand River travel up the tributary and channel to spawn in the spring, but as summer progresses and the channel dewaters adult fish and fry congregate to the four meter deep washout rather than migrating back to the Whitesand River. The fish become trapped in the washout and a huge fish kill takes place if they are not removed. Seine netting has occurred every summer since 2008, recovering in excess of 5,000 young and adult Pike, Walleye, Burbot, and White Sucker in addition to hundreds of thousands of bait fish from the washout annually.  

June 2008 - Notice how shallow the hole used to be.                           June 2008 - Netting out the hole. Shallow enough to stand in spots.

June 2008 - Aron standing in the "deep hole" at the time.                              June 2008 - Some of the bait fish seine netted.                             The others are standing in the center of the channel.

2010 Flooding - The outlet culverts are overwhelmed.                                   2010 Flooding- Water is even running over the spillway.

2011 Summer - Seine netting trapped fish.                            2011 Summer - We netted out pike, walleye, sucker, and burbot.

Through funding obtained from Environment Canada's EcoAction Program, the AWSA, along with their partners: the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation, the Water Security Agency, and the Good Spirit Lake Watershed Association undertook a project in September 2013 to permanently fix the scour hole problem. The goal of the project was to apply geo-engineering to fill in and armor the washout area to prevent fish from congregating and future erosion from taking place. The actual project involved several steps: 

  • sealing a leaking culvert in the outlet structure
  • pumping the water out of the scour hole
  • seine netting fish out of the scour hole and releasing them back into the lake
  • filling in the hole and sloping the banks using clay
  • applying erosion-resistant geo-textile fabric over top of the clay
  • applying rock/boulders on top of the geo-textile
  • spreading pit-run gravel over top of the boulders
The project turned out very well, thanks in large part to the great work of the equipment contractors involved and the dedication of the project team. A HUGE 'Thank You' to everyone involved!

August 2013 - Notice how much the banks have eroded compared      August 2013 - Culverts are closed (sort of). Time to start construction.           to the 2008 picture above.

Click HERE for photos of the scour hole remediation construction activities.