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Deliberate breach at Hoop and Holler no longer required

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Vehicles sit on the road at the Hoop and Holler Bend earlier this month.

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Vehicles sit on the road at the Hoop and Holler Bend earlier this month. Photo Store

The province has completely ruled out making a deliberate breach of the Assiniboine River at the Hoop and Holler Bend.

Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton said Thursday flood protection measures put up around at homes south of Hoop and Holler Bend southeast of Portage La Prairie will be taken down over the next week.

Ashton said the decision was made as flood flows on the Assiniboine River peaked early Tuesday and are now declining.

"We want to allow people to get back to as much normality as they can," Ashton said. "Given the forecast now, it’s clear we’re not in need of it."

Two weeks ago Premier Greg Selinger said the province was once again consider a deliberate breach of Hwy. 331 at Hoop and Holler Bend, flooding seeded farmland to the south, to ease the pressure on riverbank dikes.

Ashton said the dikes continue to hold, with minor seepage in some spots, as water levels slowly decline.

The province plans to gradually reduce the amount of water going into the river from the Portage Reservoir by 500 cfs per day to 15,000 cfs. By doing it slowly, officials said the aim is to protect riverbank from slumping. Too steep a drop in flow could undermine the banks.

"The clay is saturated with water," said Doug McNeil, deputy minister of Infrastructure and Transportation. "It’s like a big sponge that’s full of water. If you drop the weight of the water against that it, the riverbank itself will tend to want to drop."

The second crest of this summer’s flood being measured at the Portage Reservoir at a flow of 51,480 cubic feet per second at 3:15 a.m. Tuesday, slightly below the first crest last week of 52,100 cfs.

The flow into the Portage Reservoir on Thursday was measured at 49,090 cfs. The water is being split up with 18,000 cfs going into the river towards Winnipeg and the remainder into the Portage Diversion into Lake Manitoba.

The forecasted threat of localized rain in the next few days will not have much impact if any on the lessening flood situation, Steve Topping, provincial executive director of hydrologic forecasting and water management, said.

Meanwhile, the flood watch remains on Lake Manitoba and Lake Winnipeg. Both lakes are above their preferred levels and the combined threat of wind and waves poses a risk to existing dikes and other protection measures. The province has prepared inundation maps for Lake Manitoba for possible flooding.

Wind-effected levels Thursday on Lake Manitoba were 814.1 feet above sea level at Steeprock and 814.5 at Westborne. Flood stage on the lake is 814 ft. asl. Lake Manitoba is forecast to peak at 814 ft. asl by early August, the province says.

Topping said Lake Winnipeg is now expected to hit 716.4 ft. asl by late July, largely influenced by historic flood flows on the Winnipeg River. The lake is not expected to drop below 715 ft. asl until mid-October. The lake is regulated by Manitoba with the preferred operating range being between 711-715 ft. asl. Hydro will operate its Jenpeg dam at the lake’s north end for 170,000 cfs. outflow when the lake reaches its peak.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Friday, July 18, 2014 at 10:31 AM CDT: corrects flood stage number typo

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