The Selinger government is eyeing an ambitious upgrade of dikes along the Assiniboine River east of Portage la Prairie that would protect against a once-in 200-year flood.

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This article was published 6/12/2014 (2283 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The Selinger government is eyeing an ambitious upgrade of dikes along the Assiniboine River east of Portage la Prairie that would protect against a once-in 200-year flood.

One of several flood-control measures to be discussed at a series of open houses next week, the project would cost more than $250 million.

"These are dikes that are in many cases 90 to 100 years old. They've served their purpose," Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton said Friday in releasing a technical study prepared by consultant KGS Group.

The plan involves rebuilding about 80 kilometres of dikes on both sides of the Assiniboine River between Portage la Prairie and Baie St. Paul (north of Elie) at a cost of $245 million.

Between Baie St. Paul and Headingley, the plan is to flood proof individual properties at a cost of $12 million.

Once complete, the river could handle flows of up to 23,100 cubic feet per second compared with between 15,000 and 18,000 cfs currently. (The latter volume was achieved during both the 2011 and 2014 floods, thanks to a major mobilization of equipment and military assistance to shore up the old dikes.)

Ashton offered no timeline for the project at a news conference on Friday. A government spokesman later said it will take "a number of years" to complete.

The government is currently focused on repairing damage to the river dikes from this year's flood, while initiating engineering studies. Public and landowner consultations, environmental and other regulatory approvals, as well as land acquisitions would also need to be completed before construction began.

Flood-proofing the lower Assiniboine River is one of the province's priorities.

It goes hand in hand with permanently upgrading the Portage Diversion -- which channels Assiniboine River water into Lake Manitoba -- to handle flows of 34,000 cfs and constructing new outlet channels for Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin.

Meanwhile, the open houses will also present options for several other flood mitigation initiatives across the province.

The province and its consultant have looked at ways of dealing with flooding downstream from the Shellmouth Dam. After considering several options, the government has declared its preference is to buy out several landowners at a cost of about $20 million.

The government has committed $27 million to further protect Brandon from future flooding as well as upgrades at Melita and Souris.

However, the province has ruled out building additional large dams to capture Assiniboine River water in western Manitoba, saying such projects are not feasible. An engineering report identified cost and environmental issues as well as negative impacts on local communities and agriculture.

The province has also concluded a permanent structure to divert water from the Hoop and Holler bend of the Assiniboine River (just east of Portage) to the La Salle River is also unfeasible. The estimated cost of such a project would range from $80 million and $310 million.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Larry Kusch

Larry Kusch
Legislature reporter

Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.

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