Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Life's not a beach, for now

Municipalities repairing Lake Winnipeg shorelines

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VICTORIA BEACH -- Erosion, construction and all that water coming will mean less room to put down a towel on Lake Winnipeg's south basin beaches at least for the month of May and possibly longer.

The beaches are still dealing with the so-called weather bomb -- cyclone-like winds and three-metre-high waves that devastated shorelines last fall. On average, about eight metres of land was washed away by waves created by the storm.

On Wednesday, the province handed over $100,000 so the rural municipality can experiment with a new method to prevent the continued loss of beach sands.

At Grand Beach, construction crews are rebuilding the boardwalk the storm destroyed last year. The crews are working 24/7 to get the job done for June and that may be a challenge.

The west beach looks nothing like its former self. Pyramids of sand, dug up to install steel sheet-walling for the boardwalk, run along water's edge. Cranes and other heavy equipment are on the beach trying to set down steel girders that can't be destroyed by waves.

The provincial project will cost $2.1 million. There will also be some finishing work done in the fall.

As for high waters coming from the Red, Saskatchewan and Winnipeg rivers, local concerns are twofold. Of immediate concern is that much of the beaches will be covered by water for at least the early portion of the recreation season. Also, high water makes shorelines more susceptible to storm damage.

The long-term concern is flood waters are flushing phosphorus and other nutrients out of farm fields and home and municipal septic systems, down rivers and into Lake Winnipeg, accelerating blue-green algae growth.

"I hope Manitoba Hydro (with its Jenpeg dam that stabilizes water levels on the lake) dumps water like crazy," said Steve Strang, reeve for the RM of St. Clements.

Victoria Beach will use the province's $100,000 contribution to study sand retention, using fabric containers filled with sand, to create an artificial reef about 100 metres long.

"The sand will stay as the water goes out," said Tom Farrell, reeve for the RM of Victoria Beach.

bill.redekop@freepress.mb.ca

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 28, 2011 A2

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