Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Amphibexes return to Red River

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RESIDENTS near the Red River who noticed the Amphibex ice-breaking machines back in action on Easter Monday can relax.

Steve Topping, the executive director of hydrologic forecasting and water management for Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation, said it was good news the machines were out there.

Though some residents were worried the river had frozen again and the Amphibexes were chopping up that ice, Topping said that was not the case.

"We didn't recut the ice that was there, we simply widened the cut zone," Topping said in a telephone interview.

"We normally go down the river, particularly from end of main to Netley (Creek), just about Lake Winnipeg, and we normally cut with the machines going down and back. This time, we cut once again down and back to widen the path to allow for better passage of ice to Lake Winnipeg."

The job of the Amphibexes is to break up the ice and clear a path so the ice can travel down the river as it melts. If the ice chunks keep moving, it reduces the possibility of ice jams that could raise the river level in communities such as Selkirk and Petersfield.

In other years with warmer springs when ice on the river melted more quickly, Topping said, it was not possible to widen the cut zone.

"We had time this year because of the late melt," he said. "A common problem we get is high ice jams cause back water up Netley Creek and can affect the Petersfield area. So the intention is to allow more free passage of the ice going to Lake Winnipeg from the end of Main (Street) going north."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 2, 2013 A5

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