The Peace River isn’t what it used to be.
For starters, its headwater source – Kissengen Spring – is gone.
Peace River’s then (1940-1955) and now (1995-2010)
Groundwater pumping associated with phosphate mining substantially lowered the water table in the 1950s which in turn reversed the direction of flow. No, the river didn’t start flowing north! By “reversed” I mean that the river isn’t recharged “up” from the groundwater any longer, but rather ends up leaking “down,” and quite prodigiously at times, into the aquifer instead.
Kissengen Spring flowed at 30 cubic feet per second (20 million gallons per day). That may not sound like much, but it was incredibly steady in the sense that it flowed all year round. That was particularly important during the seasonal spring drought when without it the Peace would run dry. It was its sole source of flow.
Peace River near Arcadia
The hydrograph above shows how in recent times the river routinely drops below 100 cfs, yet rarely did so when the spring was still intact. Work is underway to repair the river with an upstream reservoir called Hancock Lake and by strategically adding berms in the river bed to keep flow in the river from sinking down into the karst aquifer instead. (view article) The goal is to keep a minimum of 20-30 cfs in the river channel at all times.
Or in other words, replicate the flows of Kissengen Spring!