James explained

In Manitoba, the provincial government records river levels in feet above sea level. In Winnipeg, it's recorded according to its height at the James Avenue pumping station, in feet above normal winter ice levels.

Reference Levels Feet above James
Normal Winter Ice Level 0
Normal Summer Level 6.5
1997 Flood Peak 24.5
2005 Flood Peak 20.1
2006 Flood Peak 20.4
2009 Flood Peak 22.6
SOURCE: City of Winnipeg  

The City of Winnipeg is warning people that high river levels this spring will increase the risk of basement flooding.

River levels could vary between a low of 14 feet James and 19.7 feet James. The city is reviewing the flood protection measures required for those projected levels.

The city's flood control plan is based on the flood forecast issued by the province on Feb. 27, which calls for minor to moderate flood risk for the Red, Souris, Pembina and Assiniboine rivers.

Although basement flooding is a risk at any time of the year, the risk increases with high river levels because the sewer system must then rely heavily on pumping stations rather than gravity to carry the rainfall runoff, according to the city.

Homeowners are encouraged to take the following steps to protect their homes and property:

  • Residents who live along the river should move or secure any structures or equipment near the water’s edge, such as docks, sheds, gazebos, irrigation pumps, and recreational equipment.
  • Arrange for a licensed plumber to install a sewer line backup valve and a sump pit with pump in the basement.
  • Inspect backup valves and sump pump drainage systems to make sure they are functioning properly.
  • Ensure drainage is directed away from the home by extending downspouts away from the basement walls and ensuring the earth is built up around the house.