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Province bolstering dikes near Waterhen

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Frazil ice, such as that seen forming on this river in Ontario, is a result of slush and ice crystals that do not totally freeze but have the potential to cause ice jams and sudden river rises.

CLIFFORD SKARSTEDT / THE CANADIAN PRESS ARCHIVES Enlarge Image

Frazil ice, such as that seen forming on this river in Ontario, is a result of slush and ice crystals that do not totally freeze but have the potential to cause ice jams and sudden river rises.

Permanent dikes will be bolstered near Waterhen to combat flooding from frazil ice buildup, the province’s Infrastructure and Transportation department announced Friday.

Frazil ice is a result of slush and ice crystals that do not totally freeze but have the potential to cause jams and sudden river rises of a metre or more. It is difficult to predict accurately where and when the frazil ice will develop, provincial officials said.

"Frazil ice has caused severe flooding in Waterhen in the past and we have been working with the community building dikes that will provide long-term protection for families and businesses," said Infrastructure and Transportation minister Steve Ashton. "The permanent dikes will be completed in time for the onset of the frazil ice season, as temperatures drop but before the river freezes completely."

According to the province, the Waterhen River is higher than last year at mid-November by about 0.15 metres and flows are still well-above normal for this time of the year. Level fluctuations with possible further rises of 0.6 to 0.9 metres may occur during the next two to three weeks prior to a complete freeze-up. The dikes that are being constructed can take up to a one metre of frazil ice jam plus an additional 0.6 m of protection.

The dikes will form part of the permanent flood protection system for the community and are currently under construction with an estimated value of $1.2 million. The dikes will be ready for high water this fall with cleanup and other finishing works completed next year.

The Manitoba government has also completed work on PR 513 in the vicinity of Dauphin River to reduce impacts of frazil ice formation on the road, the minister said. The Dauphin River is the natural outlet for Lake St. Martin to Lake Winnipeg. Additional work will be done this winter to complete the raising of PR 513 to ensure the road between Gypsumville and Dauphin River remains open during frazil ice events, he added.

"Since 2011 the Manitoba government has committed more than $120 million to building community and individual flood protection works," said the minster. "The funding included individual projects that helped families and businesses protect their property as well as community diking and other flood prevention work across the province."

The minister noted flood protection investments funded to date include:

  • $15 million for community flood protection projects;
  • $20 million to enhance Brandon flood protection;
  • $15 million to make temporary dikes built in 2011 permanent; and
  • more than $70 million targeted for protection of individual homes, businesses and cottages with the goal of protecting over 1,300 sites.

The minister also announced a provincial compensation program for producers and landowners impacted by the operation of the Shellmouth Dam in 2011 and 2012.

"The Shellmouth Dam Artificial Flooding Compensation Program could assist about 100 agricultural producers affected by artificial flooding resulting from the operation of the Shellmouth Dam," said the minister.

Affected producers can apply for compensation online.

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