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Despite another storm that passed through Westman early Saturday, the water levels at the Rivers dam and the Little Saskatchewan River continue to fall.
"It's basically status quo," said Riverdale Municipality Mayor Todd Gill. "We have seen a further receding of Lake Wahtopanah, Rivers Reservoir, and we've seen some receding in the level of the Little Saskatchewan River downstream of the dam, which is very positive.
"I think, for the most part, it (the storm) didn't seem to have much of an effect on the level, so I think we're heading in the right direction."
An update from the province Saturday afternoon said the latest flow rate from the dam is approximately 6,000 cubic feet per second. The water level on Lake Wahtopanah has declined 1.2 feet over the past 24 hours and continues to decline but is still at historically high levels.
The risk of the dam potentially failing "is still high, even though we're getting more in line with what it was designed to operate with," Gill said.
The evacuation order for residents downstream of the dam will remain in effect for the next four to five days, he said, adding projections are calling for an average drop in water levels of about 1.5 feet per day.
That should allow engineers, by mid next week, to get in and provide a report on the condition of the dam structure, Gill said.
The bridge crossing over the river on Highway 25 at Rivers will remain closed to traffic for the time being, with the exception of emergency service vehicles and health and home services.
"The concern at the bridge, right now of course, is not the high water, because it's receded, but the threat of a breach at the dam to allow the motoring public through there ... you just can't do it at this time," Gill said.
As of Saturday, 82 people have been evacuated from the RM of Riverdale, four from the RM of Cornwallis, 16 from the RM of Whitehead and three from the town of Neepawa. In addition, livestock has also been evacuated from Riverdale and Whitehead municipalities, according to an update from the province Saturday afternoon.
Livestock has also been evacuated from the Riverdale and Whitehead municipalities.
Environment and Climate Change severe weather meteorologist Alysa Pederson said the storm that hit Saturday morning began in southern Saskatchewan and tracked quickly through southwestern Manitoba and was still tracking through Winnipeg and the Red River Valley as the day progressed.
The heaviest rainfall hit south of Roblin and Dauphin, all the way to the U.S. border, Pederson said, with the entire region receiving between 10 and 30 millimetres of rain at the various weather stations.
The hardest-hit areas were Virden, which received 36.1 mm of rain, and Sinclair in the far southwestern corner, which saw 52.8 mm of rain during the storm that hit between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m., she said.
Brandon, meanwhile, saw 20 mm of rainfall as did Carberry, while Neepawa got 26.8 mm.
Rivers received only 13.6 mm of rain, while Minnedosa received 9.5 mm.
"That's kind of the whole area that we don't really want to see too much more precipitation," Pederson said.
As for the forecast, Pederson said thunderstorms are expected to develop in Saskatchewan again Saturday, moving through western Manitoba Saturday night and into Sunday.
The storms should move through the region quickly, rather than lingering over one area, she said, bringing once again the possibility of 10 to 30 mm of rain.
"But then it looks like Monday, Tuesday ... to be kind of clear and cool," Pederson said, adding by "cool" she mean 26 C or 27 C rather than the higher temperatures that have been baking Westman.
Updated on Saturday, July 4, 2020 at 2:30 PM CDT: The story is updated with new evacuation numbers, more information on water flows.
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