Flood risk low in Winnipeg

Flood weary Winnipeggers won't likely need to drag out the sandbags this spring.
A seating area and steps that would usually lead to the riverwalk were flooded out in 2010 and 2011. (CBC)

Flood weary Winnipeggers won't likely need to drag out the sandbags this spring.

After suffering through high water levels in 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2011, Winnipeg is in for a break, according to the flood forecast released Monday by city officials.

However, there is some bad news. While the rivers aren't expected to rise very much, the Assiniboine will likely go up enough to sink the walkway at the Forks once again.

With average weather, the Red River is expected to crest in Winnipeg at 9.18 feet James. With unfavourable weather conditions between now and spring, it is expected to crest at 14.75 feet James.

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
SOUCE: City of Winnipeg  

As reference, the normal summer river level is 6.5 feet James while the river walkway level is 8.5 feet James.

Flood control plan

In preparation for the spring melt, the city's Water and Waste Department and the Public Works Department are developing a flood control plan for a spring peak of 14.75 feet James.

A flood of that magnitude would require:

  • The activation of 12 flood pumping stations.
  • The activation of 94 sewer control gates.
  • The set-up of 8 temporary pump locations.

The city's flood control plan is based on the flood outlook issued by the province on Feb. 23.

The actual flood risk is susceptible to change and the city's plan will be revised as forecasts are updated.