Aeration Projects Can Result In Thin Ice

Ice FishingThe Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment advises people to be cautious on all frozen water bodies, especially those that have aeration systems.

Aerating a water body helps prevent winterkill, which occurs when aquatic plants either die or reduce their oxygen production, leading to fish kill. Aeration systems circulate fresh air into small, shallow fish bearing water bodies that are vulnerable to winterkill. Because the air bubbles up to the surface, there is often thin ice and open water near an aeration system. Water bodies with aeration systems are posted with warning signs and people are advised to stay clear of these posted areas.

Aeration systems usually operate between December and March. A list of water bodies with aeration systems and contact names for each area is attached. Changing temperatures, combined with the amount of snowfall and slush in some areas, can also contribute to unsafe ice conditions. Extreme caution should be taken while travelling on the ice this winter.

Here are some ice facts that people should be aware of:

  • ice strength should never be judged by appearance alone;
  • ice thickness is seldom uniform throughout a water body and can sometimes vary from safe to unsafe within a metre;
  • changing temperatures can cause thermal cracks and pressure ridges, which are indicators of unsafe ice;
  • slush indicates that ice is eroding from above and below;
  • large, deep lakes take longer to freeze and are slower to melt than smaller lakes;
  • currents in a river or creek make ice approximately 15 per cent weaker than lake ice; and heavy snowfall in some areas of the province can reduce the bearing capacity of the ice.
  • The weight of the snow often causes slush and/or flooding. Snow also acts as an insulator, which slows the freezing process.

For more information on ice safety, contact the nearest Red Cross office or check the Red Cross website at

(Courtesy Saskatchewan Environment)

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