Work continues on schedule on three fronts to prepare for and manage high flows on the lower Assiniboine River between the Portage Diversion and Headingley.
The work is being done in partnership with provincial government staff and contractors, local municipalities and the Canadian Armed Forces.
Assiniboine River Dikes
The dikes are being reinforced to handle 18,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) over the next several days and will be monitored on a 24-hour basis.
Three provincial sandbag machines are in the area producing sandbags. More than 80,000 sandbags were produced yesterday at Portage la Prairie.
Water levels approximately one foot higher than 2011 are expected on the Assiniboine River downstream of Portage la Prairie.
Landowners on the lower Assiniboine River are advised to immediately make necessary preparations for these high flows.
The Portage Diversion is operating, with flows on the Assiniboine River above the diversion at 27,450 cfs. The diversion is currently redirecting 14,550 cfs and flows on the Assiniboine River downstream of the diversion are 15,150 cfs.
Flows were increased to 15,000 at noon today and will be increased to 18,000 cfs at noon tomorrow.
Flows are estimated to reach the rural municipalities of Cartier, St. François Xavier and Headingley approximately 24 hours after the gates have opened.
The Assiniboine River at the Portage Reservoir is forecast to peak at 51,000 to 52,000 cfs on or around July 8 to 9, assuming ideal weather.
Some water will flow through the failsafe, particularly near Lake Manitoba. This is part of normal operations when flows are high.
Hoop and Holler Controlled Release
Work is underway to prepare the area near the Hoop and Holler bend where a controlled release of small amounts of water may be made as a last resort.
The controlled release would be a safety valve for the Assiniboine River flows to ensure communities and homes downstream are protected from an uncontrolled breach along the dikes.
Assistance will be available to help residents who may be affected by flooding caused by this controlled release.
There will be limited access to these areas while crews are working, and Transport Canada has issued a notice limiting flights over the Assiniboine River from Portage la Prairie to Winnipeg.
A mobile recovery office will be set up in communities in the southwest area of Manitoba beginning with the town of Virden. Staff will be available to answer questions and take applications for disaster financial assistance.
The mobile recovery office will be open today to July 8 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The office will be located in the parking lot of 236 Wellington St. W (Town of Virden Office) in Virden.
Over the next few days, staff from the Alberta Emergency Management Agency will arrive to provide assistance during the flood.
As of this morning, approximately 771 people have evacuated their homes and communities due to flooding in 2014. This includes approximately 160 evacuees from two communities due to spring flooding.
Evacuees from the rural municipalities of Archie and Wallace are beginning to return to their homes.
As of Sunday morning, 54 municipalities and communities have declared a state of local emergency. New declarations include ones from the rural municipalities of Cartier, Headingley, Lakeview and St. François Xavier.
Several flood warnings, watches and high water advisories remain in place. The flood watch for streams and drains in the Parkland region has been lowered to a high water advisory.
Livestock producers looking for additional sources of hay or pasture can see current listings at www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture under ‘online resources’.
The Manitoba government has set up a command post near Portage la Prairie to support local municipalities and the efforts to reinforce the Assiniboine River dikes.
A provincial state of emergency was declared on Friday and affects the city of Portage la Prairie and the rural municipalities of Portage la Prairie, Cartier, St. François Xavier, Headingley, Grey and MacDonald. The province will assist municipalities and property owners, who are advised to prepare for 2011 levels plus one foot.
There will be considerable activity along the dikes and diversion. Residents are advised to be cautious and watch for heavy equipment moving in the areas around the dikes.
Manitobans are strongly advised to stay away from flooded areas to ensure their safety.
The water level on the Shellmouth Reservoir has increased to 1,414.1 feet. Inflows to the reservoir are approximately 16,950 cfs today while outflows from the reservoir are approximately 10,940 cfs. Water levels are forecast to peak at approximately 1,416.9 ft. on July 12.
The Assiniboine River at Brandon appears to have crested and dikes have held. The peak water flow at Brandon during the 2011 flood was 36,730 cfs. The permanent flood protection dikes built following the 2011 flood are designed to provide adequate flood protection for the current forecast levels.
A second summer crest on the Assiniboine River at Brandon is expected on July 17 to 18 at 31,000 to 32,000 cfs. This second crest will consist of flows from the upper Assiniboine and Qu’Appelle river basins.
Assiniboine River Tributaries
Flows on the Qu’Appelle River are starting to increase again as more water moves through the system. Flows today were at 13,565 cfs.
This second summer crest on the Qu’Appelle River is significantly larger than the previous summer crest and the 2011 peak flow.
The forecast peak flow at St-Lazare is approximately 27,000 to 28,000 cfs on July 14. Water levels are rising at St-Lazare as this second crest approaches.
This flow will result in water levels below the permanent flood protection dikes, but approximately one foot higher than 2011 water levels.
At Melita, the Souris River remains near crest at 1,410.5 ft. and a flow of 11,410 cfs.
The Souris River at the town of Souris is near crest at a flow of 16,700 cfs with a water level of 1,357.2 ft.
The Souris River at Wawanesa is flowing at 16,540 cfs with a water level of 1,155.3 ft. The river is forecast to crest tomorrow at 16,500 to 17,000 cfs and a water level of 1,155.3 to 1,155.5 ft.
Whitewater Lake is at a historic high of 1,633.5 ft.
Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation’s Hydrologic Forecast Centre reports the wind forecast has improved for today and tomorrow, and results in a moderate wind warning for the south shore of Lake Winnipeg and a low wind warning for the south shoreline of Lake Manitoba.
The winds on Lake Winnipeg could increase water levels by two to three feet in the south basin of the lake along with significant wave action on southern shorelines.
The winds on Lake Manitoba could increase water levels by up to one foot in the south basin of the lake along with considerable wave action on southern shorelines.
In the Rural Municipality of Coldwell, work is underway to raise and strengthen dike systems and reduce wave erosion.
The forecast peak water level on Lake Manitoba is 814.6 ft. in early August.
Stress and Anxiety Resources
The scale and scope of the summer flood is very challenging for affected Manitoba families. There are resources to help deal with stress and anxiety which result from crisis situations.
Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation reports sections of many provincial roads have been affected by the heavy rainfall and some roads are either closed or marked with caution. Municipal roads may also be affected, closed or have load limitations. Drive with caution and obey road closed signs.