News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

February 8, 2012


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Minister says Ongoing Water Management Flood Mitigation Critical

Four separate initiatives will help improve Manitoba’s ability to fight floods and manage water in the province including an independent eight-person task force that will look at Manitoba’s record flooding in 2011, Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton announced today.

“Record flooding affected thousands of Manitoba families in 2011 and the rapid and extended response by provincial and local officials was unprecedented,” Ashton said.  “Manitoba has a history of learning from major floods and taking steps to improve flood-fighting tools for the future.  The findings of the task force and these other initiatives will be a critical part of our ongoing improvement of flood management in the province going forward.”

The flood review task force, chaired by civil engineer David Farlinger, is expected to release a public report by late summer examining a number of areas and focusing on how they can be improved for future flood events including: 

  • provincial and municipal preparedness and response,
  • flood forecasting,
  • public communications and information sharing,
  • operation of flood control infrastructure, and
  • flood protection works.

“The task force will have full access to provincial records and staff, can seek outside expertise and can consult with municipalities and other external groups as it sees fit,” said Ashton.  “As we are preparing for potential flooding in the spring of 2012, the task force will also be asked to make interim recommendations if they see an opportunity for immediate improvement in flood preparation or response.”

The minister also announced future water management concepts will be examined through a Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin regulation review committee, a flood-mitigation study for the Lake Manitoba watershed and the Assiniboine River basin, and a forum leading to a provincewide surface‑water management strategy. 

     Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin Regulation Review Committee

The 13-person Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin regulationreview chaired by economist and certified management consultantHarold Westdal will have representation from technical and environmental experts, municipal, First Nation and Métis communities, agricultural producers and fishers.  The committee will consult with local stakeholders and advise the province on the appropriate interim regulatory ranges for the lakes and complementary operating guidelines for the Fairford River Water Control Structure and Lake St. Martin channel.  The committee will become a permanent advisory group to the province regarding ongoing operation of these water control works.

     Flood Mitigation Study

The province expedited work this summer and fall to construct the $100-million Lake St. Martin emergency channel and has committed to permanently enhancing flood protection in Brandon and along the Assiniboine River.  In addition, a flood mitigation study for the Lake Manitoba watershed, including Lake Winnipegosis, Dauphin Lake and the Shoal Lakes, and the Assiniboine River Basin, including Lake of the Prairies and the Qu’Appelle and Souris rivers, will be conducted by an independent consultant who will identify potential methods for enhanced flood protection in these systems.  A wide range of stakeholders will be given an opportunity to provide input throughout the process.

     Surface-water Management Strategy

A forum will be the first step in the formation of a provincewide surface-water management strategy that will work to ensure a co-ordinated approach on water management to prevent or reduce flooding of agricultural, industrial and residential land.  It will involve representatives from conservation districts across the province, the Association of Manitoba Municipalities, Keystone Agricultural Producers and the Manitoba Water Council.  Shannon Stunden Bower, University of Alberta professor and author of Wet Prairie:  People, Land, and Water in Agricultural Manitoba, will also participate in the development of this strategy.

“The 2011 flood affected many areas of the province which have not seen major flooding in several decades,” said Ashton.  “And we are still fighting the flood now.  There are families that still have not been able to return home and there is ongoing uncertainty about lake levels and what future floods may bring.  The initiatives we are announcing today are the first step towards better long-term flood protection and water management in the areas of the province hit by record flooding last year.”

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Flood Review Task Force -