Manitoba to activate floodway as soon as Thursday

By | April 8, 2020

The Manitoba government is preparing to activate the Red River Floodway as soon as Thursday evening. 

The announcement Wednesday comes as the province issues a high water warning for the Red River from Emerson to the Red River Floodway inlet, just south of Winnipeg.

The government said the river is close to spilling its banks in most of the region. A high water watch has been issued for the Red River from Lockport to Netley Creek due to potential of some overland water in low-lying areas from ice jamming.

Normally the floodway gates wouldn’t be opened until river ice has broken up and cleared upstream but the government said the ice is unlikely to clear until April 9 at the earliest and may occur a day or two later.

Water from the Red River began to spill into the Red River Floodway naturally on April 7. The initial operation is the first of several that will roll the gates off the river bed and push more water into the floodway inlet. 

A warning is issued when river or lake levels are exceeding or are expected to exceed flood stage within the next 24 hours. A a watch is issued when river or lake levels are approaching and likely to reach flood stage, but unlikely within the next 24 hours.

Ice jams along River Road just south of Selkirk Wednesday. (Meagan Fiddler/CBC)

Water levels are expected to peak at Emerson April 15-20 with the peak expected to reach the Red River Floodway between April 19-24, the province said in a news release.

Dike closures expected this weekend

With the operation of the floodway, the Red River level in Winnipeg at James Avenue is expected to peak between 19 and 19.5 feet from April 13-17.

Dike closures are anticipated over the weekend at West Lynn and Noyse. Partial dike closures may also be required along PR 201 on the east side of Letellier and at St. Jean Baptiste. Property owners are being warned to protect wells as high water rolls through the Red River Valley.

High river levels on the Red River in Winnipeg on April 8. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

The Red River is forecast to reach levels close to 2006 spring levels between Emerson and Letellier, and between 2006 and 2019 spring levels north of Letellier along the river.

Water levels along the Assiniboine, Souris and Pembina rivers are relatively low with no significant flooding issues.

The Portage Diversion continues to operate to reduce downstream ice-jam impacts. Small ice jams may occur in Winnipeg at some of the Assiniboine River bridges and major lakes in the province are within normal operating ranges.

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