The province is considering using the Red River Floodway apparatus, now that ice on the waterway is moving through Winnipeg.
The Red is expected to crest upstream of Winnipeg on Tuesday or Wednesday at a peak flow of 46,000 to 47,000 cubic feet per second, which is less than half of the river’s flow during the height of the 2009 flood.
The presence of ice on the Red prevented the province from closing the floodway gates. The province said in a statement it’s now consulting with city officials about diverting more water into the floodway in an effort to reduce river levels inside the city.
Approximately one tenth of the Red River’s flow is spilling into the floodway channel without the operation of the gates.
As of 3:20 p.m. Monday, the Red in Winnipeg stood at 18.86 feet above normal winter ice levels at James Avenue, a fraction below a Sunday-evening peak of 18.91 feet James. The province had predicted the Red would not exceed 18.8 feet James, while the city has protected properties to that level plus two more feet of clearance. City officials have said they are monitoring water levels, which have fluctuated over the past 36 hours due to ice cover.
North of the city, ice jams on the Red River are causing localized flooding near Selkirk, closing a short section of Provincial Road 204 between Selkirk and Provncial Road 212.
The City of Selkirk is also bracing for flooding due to ice jams. Selkirk Park has closed because of the rising water levels, while city crews are busy using earth to fill in low spots in the permanent dike along the river
"We’ve got more ice coming in from Winnipeg," said Darrell Kupchuk, Selkirk’s emergency measures operations coordinator. "We’re expecting that to raise water levels. It all depends on how high the water gets."
Kupchuk said they have been in constant contact with the provincial government, but there’s not much that can be done until an ice jam on the north end of the community starts moving.
"There’s just no flow in the river to get the ice away," he said.
Kupchuk said thankfully there are no homes at risk in the city, adding that the low spots are the Marine Museum of Manitoba, Selkirk Park and a golf course.
"The Kiwanis Senior Complex, the Manitoba government invested in raising the dike around it so now they are fully protected," he said.
Marine Museum manager Shaylene Nordal said if the museum site doesn’t flood, it should open on the May long weekend. If it does flood they won’t be able to open until later this summer.
Nordal said because of the risk of the ice jamming they were told they only have two hours to move any artifacts away from their location beside the Red River.
But Nordal said they are actually ready.
"In 2007 we weren’t ready for an ice jam so all of our artifacts were there," she said.
"Now, since everything was restored, we have already moved all the artifacts to higher ground. It’s just the empty ships that are here.
"Since 2007 we prepare whether (the water levels) are close or not. We know there can always be ice jams here."
Nordal said if the site doesn’t flood they expect to be open on the May long weekend, but if it does flood they won’t be able to open until later this summer.
The museum, a non-profit organization, opened in 1974 and features several historic ships including the S.S. Keenora, built in 1897 and the province’s oldest steamship.
RM of St. Clements Mayor Steve Strang said they are monitoring the ice flows in his municipality on the east side of the Red River north of Winnipeg to Lake Winnipeg.
"I really feel we are in good shape," Strang said.
"We have been proactive through the years," he added, noting that in recent years vulnerable property owners were bought out and moved out to allow the construction of a permanent dike. That dike will be made completely permanent this summer, but Strang said a temporary one in place should protect the municipality this year.
Strang said across the river, in the RM of St. Andrews, they were busy putting up temporary water filled tube dikes around homes that, with the ice jams on the Red River causing rapidly rising water levels, are suddenly vulnerable to flooding.