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'Significant flood' strikes Winnipeg River system

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Rob Aitken's boat half full of water, holds down his dock on Saturday July 5 because of the high water and word that it was still rising at that point, something that is now a very common sight on Lake of the Woods these days.

TOM THOMSON / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Rob Aitken's boat half full of water, holds down his dock on Saturday July 5 because of the high water and word that it was still rising at that point, something that is now a very common sight on Lake of the Woods these days. Photo Store

While scores of workers and soldiers sandbag homes and strengthen dikes along the Assiniboine River, another Manitoba river is rising fast.

The Winnipeg River, which runs from Ontario through eastern Manitoba to Lake Winnipeg, is flooding because of heavy rainfall during the past month.

But homes and businesses aren't in danger -- it's mostly unsecured docks that are at risk of floating away.

"June was probably the wettest month that the upper part of the Lake of the Woods basin has ever seen," Lake of the Woods Control Board executive engineer Matt DeWolfe said Monday.

There was also a late snowmelt.

"As a result, the flows of the Winnipeg River through the Whiteshell region in Manitoba are higher than they've ever been recorded."

DeWolfe said the peak on the Winnipeg River in the Whiteshell will occur July 18 and the river is expected to rise as much as 17 centimetres before then.

To put it into persecutive: As much as 51,000 cubic feet per second of water on the Assiniboine River is expected to hit Portage Wednesday.

Manitoba flood official Steve Topping said the expected flow on the Winnipeg River will be 98,200 cfs at Pointe du Bois by July 22.

"It's a significant flood of the Winnipeg River system," Topping said Monday.

DeWolfe added Lake of the Woods is at its highest level since the flood of record in 1950.

"We're nearly two feet below the previous historic peak, but higher than the recent high years in 2001 and 2002 by a little bit," DeWolfe said.

As a result, the Norman Dam outside Kenora is fully open and sending as much water as possible down the Winnipeg River.

DeWolfe said Lake of the Woods, depending on further heavy rainfall, has likely peaked.

"We're relatively stable over that last several days," he said.

"We seem to be in a balance of what's leaving through the dams at Kenora and what's coming into the lake.

"We're hoping to get a bit of decrease over the next week, but there is some rain in the forecast again."

 

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 8, 2014 A4

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