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Floodway Operation

Normally, the gates that divert water into the floodway channel sit below the river bottom. With spring melt and rain, the Red River rises and the flood gates can then be raised slowly to divert more water into the channel. There are detailed operating rules for the way the gates are raised and the floodway is put into action. They were updated following the 1997 flood.

The provincial government will continue to be responsible for the operation of the floodway after the expansion is complete. The Authority will work closely with the province and provide public feedback on the current operating rules.

The floodway has been operated on an emergency basis during the summer on two occasions. In both instances, a decision was made to raise the gates when the river exceeded normal summer water levels and significant rainstorms were predicted. The emergency action was undertaken in an effort to mitigate damage that potential precipitation could have resulted in. In 1993, sewer back-up as a result of elevated water levels and summer precipitation in Winnipeg resulted in $130 million in damages.

In the fall of 2004, the Province of Manitoba adopted Rule 4: Emergency Operation to Reduce Sewer Backup in Winnipeg, which identifies the circumstances under which the Minister of Water Stewardship may determine that emergency operation of the floodway is necessary to prevent widespread basement flooding and resulting risk to health and damage to property within the City of Winnipeg. In regard to the non-spring emergency operation of the floodway, the Province of Manitoba has determined that the floodway will not operate in the summer during the project's 2005 - 2009 construction phase unless a crisis situation arises where operation would provide a benefit that exceeds the cost of delaying the project.

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