Flood officials in Manitoba have begun to seal up the dike that was cut a week ago, causing a deliberate flood of rural land to protect other homes downstream.

The controversial cut at the Hoop and Holler Bend of the Assiniboine River was made on May 14.

The spill has covered about 3.42 square kilometres of land in that time.

The province initially warned it might have to release up to 3,000 cubic feet of water per second (cfs) but the flow remained around 400 cfs and no homes in the area were seriously damaged by the water.

Most of them had been well protected during a scramble in the days leading up to the breach, thanks to members of the Canadian Forces, residents, students and other volunteers.

Work to close the breach began at noon Friday, according to a flood bulletin released by the province.

It is expected to take a few hours to completely close the spill point.

"The closure of the controlled release is possible because, although they are still very high, flows into the Portage Reservoir are dropping and the Portage Diversion and Assiniboine River dikes are better able to manage the flows," stated the bulletin.

Not yet permanent

The closure cannot yet be considered permanent, the bulletin added.

"Due to continued high flows on the Assiniboine River, ongoing concerns with the integrity of the Portage Diversion and Assiniboine River dikes and a forecast rainstorm for the Souris and Qu'Appelle watershed this weekend, the option to reopen the controlled release must remain [ready] for at least another week."

As such, mandatory evacuations remain for the 14 homes in the area that is affected by water from the controlled release, as well as for residents near the Portage Diversion.

Property owners in areas of the controlled release zone that have not seen any water will be allowed to return home but must keep their flood-protection systems in place until further use of the controlled release has been ruled out, the bulletin stated.

As planned, the water has moved east to the Elm River and will enter the La Salle River in the coming days, the province stated.