Report coming on Manitoba's 2011 flood management

Victims of the 2011 flood are anxiously awaiting the release Friday of a sweeping independent review of the Manitoba government's handling of the event.
The 2011 flood pushed the levels of Lake Manitoba to record heights, flooding hundreds of thousands of acres around it. (CBC)

Victims of the 2011 flood are anxiously awaiting the release Friday of a sweeping independent review of the Manitoba government's handling of the event.

The report is expected to have more than 200 recommendations and sources have told CBC News that some of them will force people on Lake Manitoba to build at higher elevations than have been required in the past.

That doesn't surprise Fred Pisclevich, who lost his Twin Lakes Beach home in the flood. The province has already told him to rebuild on stilts three metres high.

But he believes that just means the province will allow Lake Manitoba to continue to get more water than it can handle, rather than trying to address the high-water problem.

"Building higher doesn't solve the problem. Keeping the lake lower does," he said.

Through much of the spring in 2011, Lake Manitoba was being fed by floodwaters from the bloated Assiniboine River that was channeled north via the Portage Diversion, a 29-kilometre channel that has its inlet near Portage la Prairie.

As a result, the lake's water level was pushed to a record heights that spilled into cottages, businesses and across farms in nearby communities.

Pisclevich, who is part of a $260-million lawsuit alleging the province deliberately flooded the lake to protect the water from reaching Winnipeg, hopes the review backs residents' demand for an additional outlet for Lake Manitoba.

Cattle farmers are also still trying to recover from the flood two years ago. Producers around Lake Manitoba say hundreds of thousands of acres of pasture and hay land remain under water.

Cam Dahl of the Manitoba Beef Producers says the impact of the 2011 flood is still forcing farmers out of business.

"The 2011 flood is not over. And I think that's something that people often forget," he said.

"And you know, it was a couple of years ago. It must be done. But in fact, it's not."

Dahl says cattle producers haven't had any flood compensation since 2011. And 150 beef farmers around Lake Manitoba are on the verge of going out of business.

Civil engineer David Farlinger, chair of the flood review task force, said the report is seven months late because of the scope of the flooding and its severity.

According to sources, another one of the recommendations in the review will touch on climate change.

Calling it a "very significant issue for Manitoba," sources told CBC News that flood control structures are based on historical flood records but climate change means that data is no longer reliable and "designing structures without keeping climate change in mind is bad policy."