Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Not even the flood of the decade

Prevention efforts shift after Red crests in city

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The focus of provincial flood-prevention efforts has shifted to the north and west of Winnipeg after the Red River started to recede at the Manitoba capital.

The Red River crested in Winnipeg early Tuesday at 19.17 feet above normal winter ice level at James Avenue. By the afternoon, the Red had receded below 19 feet James. The 2014 crest is considered a moderate spring flood by Winnipeg standards. The river flow at the Red River Floodway intake peaked at 55,200 cubic feet per second, or about 40 per cent of the river's volume at the height of the 1997 Flood of the Century.

River levels remained manageable inside the city without the operation of the floodway apparatus. Water began spilling on its own into the floodway last week.

The floodway will only be operated this spring if unusually heavy rains create a second, larger crest, said Steve Topping, director of hydrologic forecasting and water management for Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation.

This does not appear likely. Heavier precipitation is expected west of the city, along the Assiniboine River drainage basin. The province plans to send more water to Lake Manitoba through the Portage Diversion in the event Assiniboine flows increase significantly.

Assiniboine flows at Brandon are expected to be well below flood-protection levels, even with heavy rains in the short-term forecast.

"This is a very manageable flood," Topping said in an interview.

North of Winnipeg, an ice jam on the Red River north of Selkirk moved downstream early Tuesday and got hung up on a bend north of Highway 4. Localized flooding south of Netley-Libau Marsh submerged sections of Provincial Road 320.

While communities on either side of the lower Red River are protected, the town of Petersfield, along Netley Creek, was alerted to the potential for rising water levels.

"At this time there are 75 structures that are potentially impacted in the Netley Creek (Petersfield) area," Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton said. "Preparations are underway by the municipality as we speak to protect those structures."

The province is also monitoring the potential for flooding along the Fisher and Icelandic rivers in the Interlake.

"The runoff on the eastern side of the province and the northern part of the Interlake -- it's still just beginning," Topping said.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 23, 2014 A10

History

Updated on Wednesday, April 23, 2014 at 8:07 AM CDT: adds charts

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