Getting the most from a saline lake (Part 1)

Saskatchewan Minerals Inc. - Sodium Sulphate is Our Business

Innovative dikes maximize Chaplin’s brine harvest

Chaplin Lake encompasses nearly 20 square miles (52 sq. km.) and another 10 square miles of fresh water storage area. The lake is also the second largest saline water body in Canada, and can hold upwards of 16,000 Acre Feet (16 000 acre foot = 5,213,622,932.2 gallon [US, liquid]) of water at one time in an average brining season.

Chaplin Lake divided into 13 sections

Since Mother Nature is unpredictable, Saskatchewan Minerals has developed numerous innovative solutions to increase the maximum potential harvest each year. In 60 years of operation, Saskatchewan Minerals has built various dikes, sectioning off Chaplin Lake into 13 different divisions. These dike systems vary in length from one to three miles.

Culverts and gates help to direct water

The divisions allow the engineering staff to control the water levels all the way through the lake system. This results in precise water levels during peak times in the harvest season and in specific sections of the lake. We have inserted some 50 culverts and gates to allow gravity to flow water to the desired destination.

Saskatchewan Minerals works to protect the unique environmental conditions at Chaplin Lake.

System enhanced by pumps and ditches

When wind does not co-operate or an extreme amount of moisture has collected in the major brining areas, we have two high volume pumps at strategic locations to move water back to the storage areas. Saskatchewan Minerals also created over 11 miles of ditch line connecting into the Wood River system. This allows us to draw fresh water from a solid well-established water source, even in a dry year.

Environment Protected

Saskatchewan Minerals works closely with government organizations, non-government organizations and the local community to ensure that the unique environmental conditions at Chaplin Lake are protected, and even enhanced. That’s good news to the number of migratory birds that frequent the lake. Working with Ducks Unlimited, Saskatchewan Minerals helps manage the 11-mile Wood River diversion that leads to three Heritage Marsh ponds before entering a freshwater storage area. As well, brine control results in large shallow flooded area that provides excellent habitat for shorebirds. The whole process is monitored by the Ministry of Environment, Saskatchewan Watershed Authority, Ministry of Agriculture and Food and other land controllers.

Look for Part 2 in the next issue.