The planned controlled release of water from the Assiniboine River is going ahead as planned at 6 a.m. Saturday morning.
During a live television address Friday evening, Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger said the decision to deliberately breach the dike at Hoop and Holler Bend wasn’t an easy one. Selinger reaffirmed what flood officials noted earlier in the week — homeowners and farmers affected by the breach will be compensated for damage, lost income and the recovery of their property. “I’ve directed my staff to create a special compensation program,” Selinger said in the three-minute address.
On Friday afternoon, flood officials provided an update on the situation about to occur.
Steve Topping with Manitoba Water Stewardship noted that there is more water flowing through the Portage Diversion than currently in the Red River Floodway.
The initial release will be 500 cubic feet per second (cfs), and gradually increase to 1,000 cfs. Flows could slowly increase to between 2,500 and 3,000 cfs over the following days.
The spill will spread across approximately 225 square kilometres of land and eventually end up in the La Salle River. Areas as far southeast of Portage la Prairie as Elie will see water in the next seven to eight days. An uncontrolled release would have an impact on more than 500 square kilometres and about 850 homes.
Until then, military personnel are working to shore up dikes and lay down water-filled tube barriers to protect as much property as possible.
A replay of Selinger’s address will be posted on the Manitoba government’s YouTube channel later tonight.