A television crew films as water begins to flow across a road near the Hoop and Holler Bend dike breach along the Assiniboine River south east of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba May 15, 2011.
Credits: (REUTERS/Fred Greenslade)
WINNIPEG - The trickle is likely to become more of a gusher in coming days.
While the controlled release of the swelling Assinboine River southeast of Portage la Prairie, Man., was still flowing Sunday at the rate of under 500 cubic-feet-per-second it's been at since opened Saturday morning, those in the area can expect to see things speed up as early as Tuesday.
Provincial flood managers expect peak flows on the Assinboine to hit by then or Wednesday, at which point the flow through controlled release will have to be increased to handle the excess water that would prove too much for the river's dikes downstream.
"It's been described by those on the ground as moving currently at less than a walking pace," said Steve Ashton, the province's minister responsible for emergency planning.
It's likely the flow through the Hoop and Holler Bend release could be increased four or five-fold to accommodate the excess water.
Steve Topping, executive director of regulatory and operational services for Manitoba Water Stewardship, said the controlled release is doing its job and water has spread through the intentional breach about three kilometres to the south and less than two kilometres to the east.
"The controlled release at the Hoop and Holler Bend is working as we had hoped," Topping said. "It is relieving pressure on Assinboine River dikes, which are under heavy stress from river flows."
Topping said water from the controlled release had flowed around three residential properties by Sunday afternoon, but in all cases flood protection measures have stood up and no homes have taken in water.
On the good-news side, Highway 75 is expected to fully re-open to traffic by Tuesday, Ashton said. It has been closed since April 18.
"This means there will have been approximately a four-week closure, which is slightly less than the length of the closure in 2009," Ashton said.
Topping said the Assinboine is expected to crest in Brandon, Man., between Monday and Wednesday. He said he expects the river to rise in the western Manitoba city by about six inches from where it stood Sunday.