Flows on Assiniboine River increase as Red River recedes

Manitoba municipalities are preparing temporary flood-protection measures to meet an increase in flowing water on the lower Assiniboine River.

Doug McMahon, assistant deputy minister of Manitoba Infrastructure, said the Assiniboine River forecast has been revised and the flow downstream of the diversion will reach 15,000 cubic feet per second as early as April 10 — a flow assistant deputy minister of emergency measures Lee Spencer said is within the threshold the river can sustain.

Even so, "the Assiniboine and areas in the west and south are now being closely watched," McMahon said.

A flood watch remains in place for the area between Portage la Prairie and Headingley as flows increase.

But as flows on the Assiniboine increase, flows on the Red River are dropping.

"Levels continue to decline on the Red River and most of its tributaries," McMahon said.

By Friday morning, levels had dropped to 18.2 feet above normal winter ice levels at James Avenue in Winnipeg and were expected to remain around that level for the next week.  

A flood watch is still in effect for the Red Deer River but has been lifted for Plum Creek. 

A flood warning is in effect for the Birdtail Creek; the upper Assiniboine River from the Shellmouth Dam to Holland; the Pelican, Rock, Oak and Dauphin lakes; and the Pembina and Souris rivers.

Crews are watching the Gretna dike for potential overflows. Owners of property around Pelican Lake are also being encouraged to set up flood protection.

There is also a flood warning in effect for all points along the Souris River.

"Due to the unusually warm temperatures this year, the spring run-off was typically two weeks earlier than usual and the run-off rates were exceptionally high," said McMahon.

Ice jamming also caused major issues and "some bridges have been severely damaged," he added.

Most rivers in southern Manitoba are now ice free, he said, but ice is still in place in the north and ice jamming is still a concern.

"Run-off is starting to occur on the Saskatchewan River and the Carrot River watersheds. We will be watching those closely," McMahon said.

As of Friday morning, there were 15 local states of emergency, mostly in the southwest part of the province and the Red River and Pembina River areas.

Spencer said most communities declared their states of emergency to allow the use of certain powers like going onto private property, rather than in response to significant damages.

"[I] think those that are in a state of emergency will say that they are busy and they need it," he said.

So far, 291 people have been forced by flooding to leave their homes. All but six of those people are from First Nations, and they are staying in hotels in Brandon, Portage la Prairie and Winnipeg.