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Planning for the next big Manitoba flood

The Story


In 1997, as the first week of May flowed past, Winnipeggers basked in collective relief. They'd made it - this time. But if they get another flood like the one in 1826, the Winnipeg Floodway won't be enough to save the city. Manitoba quickly started working on ways to beef up its flood-fighting capabilities. As CBC TV discovers, the two options they came up with - the expanded floodway and the Ste. Agathe Detention Structure - are of big concern to many Red River Valley residents. Expanding the floodway would involve three main components: raising Winnipeg's east and west dikes; upgrading existing floodway infrastructure, such as the floodway gates; and increasing the capacity of the floodway channel. The cost would be about $612 million, and the expanded floodway would protect Winnipeg from the kind of flood that happens only once every 700 years. But some fear that a bigger floodway will endanger communities like Selkirk, north of Winnipeg. The Ste. Agathe Detention Structure includes four main components: an earthen dike six metres high and 60 kilometres long across the Red River Valley; water control structures at the Red, Marsh and Rat Rivers; a discharge channel from the Marsh River control structure; and a diversion channel to the Rat River. This option would protect Winnipeg from a once-every-1000-years flood and would cost $495 million. But it would also increase the risk of flooding south of Ste. Agathe - and right on into the U.S.

Medium: Television
Program: Canada Now
Broadcast Date: Jan. 25, 2002
Guest(s): Paul Campeau, Guy Gagnon
Reporter: Kaveri Bittira
Duration: 1:30

Did You know?


• On Nov. 27, 2002, the government of Manitoba announced it had decided to go with the floodway expansion option. A proposal was submitted to Ottawa.
• Construction should be complete by 2010.
• The expanded floodway will adversely affect communities to the north of Winnipeg during times of flood. Water will reach Selkirk and surrounding area earlier in the spring, and floods will be higher there than they have been in the past.

• On Dec. 5, 2002, the government announced it would develop ways of protecting the Selkirk area.
• To that end, amendments were introduced to the expansion proposal. These amendments provide a right to compensation for any individual who experiences artificial flooding due to the operation of the floodway.
• The Government of Manitoba says that the expanded floodway will only affect areas to the north during a once-every-250-years flood.

• The flood of 1826 was a once-every-300-years flood.
• There's a one in three chance that a flood in excess of the floodway's 1997 capacity will occur by the year 2050.
• An expanded floodway could lower water levels in Winnipeg during the summer. The city's award-winning riverside walkways are often flooded but with the expanded floodway they could be open all year long, and Winnipeg - for the first time in its history - could seriously develop riverbank property.


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