Tag Archives: channel

Channel progressing, secondary one in works

An article in the Winnipeg Free Press today outlining progress on the channel from Lake St. Martin to Big Buffalo Lake.

“Favourable fall weather has given the province confidence that it can complete its ambitious $100-million emergency channel by Nov. 1.

Engineers are looking at moving up construction of the sub-channel, although a final decision has not yet been made, said Paul White, a spokesman for the provincial Water Stewardship department.

When completed, the second outlet would make the new main channel more efficient, especially during spring runoff. “It’s like putting a second drain in your bathtub. You’d drain it a lot faster,” White said.”

Progress report from Province of MB website

An update today from the province on the emergency channel:

  • Construction of the Lake St. Martin Emergency Channel is on track to be completed in November, however progress on the final stage depends on weather conditions and logistical issues.
  • The roads and other infrastructure are approximately 50 percent complete and the channel is close to 20 percent finished.
  • There are over 100 workers and more than 80 pieces of heavy equipment working on the project.
  • Ditches, dikes and temporary roads have been constructed on either side of the 6.5 kilometre outlet.
  • The work site is remote and workers, equipment and supplies must be moved by boat or barge across eight kilometres of Lake St. Martin, to the site. As well, the terrain is challenging to work in and water has to be pumped out of each area, before construction can begin.
  • Once the project is finished, the Fairford Dam Structure will be able to remain open through the winter, which will help lower Lake Manitoba water levels and result in lower levels on Lake St. Martin.
Visit the Lake St. Martin Emergency Channel update page here. You can also see photos and aerial footage.

Update on channel: August 18, 2011

On August 18, Eric Blais of AECOM and Doug McNeil, Deputy Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation, headed an Open House at Canad Inns Polo Park, Winnipeg, about the Emergency Channel to relieve water levels on Lake St. Martin and Lake Manitoba. The following was recorded during the question and answer portion.

Q: What can you offer us in terms of a progress report?

EB: Contracts were signed this week Monday. Construction equipment is mobilizing as we speak. We hope to have 60 pieces of equipment on the other side of the lake by September 1.

DM: I was up there yesterday; there are 12 pieces up there right now. Accessibility is our biggest issue because this is such a remote site. We’ve basically taken over the hotel in Gypsumville, the campground off PR513, is it called Big Rock? We’ve lost several days because we can’t take the barge over due to weather.

We’ve had to make tough decisions and we’re doing that. We’re getting a lot of heat because we didn’t ask for tenders. Well, that takes six weeks, so we went with contractors we know, with the right equipment, the right experience.

Let’s be honest. Those contractors still don’t know how they’re going to build the channel. If they can dewater the area, as it were, and use conventional methods, they will really be able to move on this channel.

So far we’ve built a road in the first km of the seven-km stretch. The plan is to build the road down those entire 7 kms, and then start on the channel and work upstream.

Q: You’re working on the road now, you’re hoping for 60 pieces of equipment there for September 1. Are we to assume you’re hoping to begin actual work on the actual channel September 1?

EB: Yes, that’s what we’re aiming for. The logistics of this project are staggering. We’re working on getting a big barge from Ontario. But you know, how do you get that down the Trans Canada Highway? I’m on the phone with the Coast Guard finding appropriate buoys for our barges. We need two tankers of fuel on a barge every day to keep this project going.

Maybe we set up kitchens, medical personnel, everything we need over there for 100 men so they can stay and we don’t have to be dependent on the weather and crossing back over.

Q: Are you planning for working around the clock, 24 hours a day?

DM: At this point, we just don’t know. Frankly, we don’t want to because that just adds another layer of concern. Now we need lights, there are heightened safety concerns, which are already high because we’re so remote.

Q: Should we understand the logistics of the project will require more than the actual construction of the channel?

EB: Well, we’re asking a lot of these contractors. We’re talking about 60 m at the base, probably 70-80 m at the top. We’re asking for 50,000 cubic metres of dirt a day. We’re asking for 200 metres of channel a day, and we are saying a deadline of November 1.

The Flooding of Lake Manitoba, Lake St. Martin & the Dauphin River

By LMFRC member Kevin Yuill

This is the worst environmental disaster Manitoba has ever seen. We saved most homes downstream of Portage la Prairie on the Assiniboine River including Portage, Poplar Point, Elie and Winnipeg at the expense of the many homes all around Lake Manitoba, Lake St Martin and Dauphin River.

This is the largest and longest man made disruption of lives in Manitoba history, the emotional scars won’t heal over night and there were warnings it (the water) was coming.

We need to do what is right for these people which is to put in a proper channel to funnel this water out as close to the speed that it is being diverted in or make a new channel to the Red River and avoid polluting Lake Manitoba any more.

I think about the flooding that’s taking place and I think about my grandson. We want the future generations all around the province to be treated equal and doing what is right today is a good start for our future managers.

I am not saying diverting this water was wrong. I just know that this could and will happen again someday very soon and we must prepare today. Keep politics out of the decision, just get the job done now and done right.

Considering provincial liabilities

By LMFRC member Oli Olson

The Manitoba Government, by running the Portage Diversion on the Assiniboine River, through times of excessive snow melt or rainfall, has been relatively successful at protecting the city of Winnipeg, and farmland en‐route. This diversion of waters from an unnatural source into Lake Manitoba has, at times, caused severe loss of economic opportunities, economic hardship, loss of property, and property damage to many Manitobans living along Lake Manitoba, and Lake St. Martin.

The present government has recognized this, and is considering its liabilities to those that have been sacrificed.

In an attempt to help relieve the flooding, the government has commenced to dredge a relief channel to help remove water from Lake St. Martin. At this time, the government is not committing to a relief channel for Lake Manitoba. Their plan is to let the Fairford River slowly handle the flow over an 8-month period, getting Lake Manitoba down to 813 ( 1 foot higher than the top-of-normal operating range) by next year’s flood season. Then, I assume, they hope for a drought, throughout southern Manitoba and Saskatchewan as the Fairford River Dam can only handle about one third of the Portage Diversion input, should there be the likely need to operate it. In this scenario the flooding and liabilities recycle.

The probabilities of again flooding for 2012 are most likely, as historic evidence shows the lake rises a minimum of 1.5 feet from pre-run off to early summer crest. Therefore the lake will again be put into flood levels.

The Fairford Dam, built in the 60s, is simply outdated. The requirements of today, and the increased drainage in the southwest, are far beyond its capacity. Additional drainage of Lake Manitoba must be constructed, or the continued flooding, and consequent annual liabilities to the taxpayer, will far exceed the cost of channel construction.

The emergency channel to lower Lake St. Martin will do very little to reduce liability, due to damage caused by flooding. Lake St. Martin is less than 8 per cent the size of Lake Manitoba, and a large portion of its shore line in the east and south-east has no development, or very little economic activity. The liabilities are minute compared to Lake Manitoba, which is settled all around, with ranching, and farming, and many large cottage developments, throughout.

The proposed costs to construct an additional channel to enhance drainage from Lake Manitoba range from $195‐330 million. Liabilities and compensation for 2011 alone will greatly exceed this. It is obvious that doing nothing to enhance the exhausting of water from Lake Manitoba, other than running the Fairford River Dam at its full capacity, will be the most expensive option for Manitoba taxpayers.

LMFRC demand consultation and further lake relief

 (WINNIPEG, Manitoba) July 26, 2011 – Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton met with the Lake Manitoba Flood Rehabilitation Committee on Tuesday to discuss the emergency channel to lower the levels of Lake St. Martin and Lake Manitoba. Ashton says the channel route, from Lake St. Martin through Big Buffalo Lake and on to the Dauphin River, is the best option in terms of timeline and payoff.

“The key to Lake St. Martin is Lake St. Martin. The key to Lake Manitoba is Lake St. Martin. This channel will give immediate relief as soon as it’s accomplished,” says Ashton.

While the LMFRC is relieved to see an announcement from the province, members say the plan is overly optimistic, as it is based on optimal conditions of several factors.

“They’re assuming meeting their deadline of November 1, perfect weather, no excess moisture, and no flooding next year,” says Joe Johnson, LMFRC Co-Chair. “That’s a lot to ask of Mother Nature. There are more options to explore. There are generations of knowledge in this area and we urge the province to engage us and work with us.”

The LMFRC hopes for more collaboration and consultation with the government during construction of the channel and the duration of the flood.

The Lake Manitoba Flood Rehabilitation Committee represents all 11 municipalities surrounding Lake Manitoba. It gives voice to the urgent needs of all residents and businesses for an immediate solution to the flooding. It seeks adequate and inclusive compensation for the rehabilitation of land, businesses and residential properties damaged by the man-made flooding of Lake Manitoba.

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Lake Manitoba reps call for immediate action

(WINNIPEG, Manitoba) July 14, 2011 – The Lake Manitoba Flood Rehabilitation Committee (LMFRC) met with several members of the government to discuss both immediate and long-term solutions to the man-made flooding occurring in and around the Lake Manitoba area. The main concern of the LMFRC is the urgent need to lower the lake.

Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton wouldn’t specify exactly the route of the proposed channel, nor would he put a specific number to the volume the channel could be expected to move. While the minister said the channel would have to move several thousand cubic feet per second (cfs), the LMFRC says the channel must carry between 20,000 – 25,000 cfs to have the required affect. Both parties agree that time is of the essence.

“We should have a concrete plan early next week,” says Ashton. “We know we need to move quickly. Wave action is a huge issue, and then we have the ice coming.”

The LMFRC was pleased to meet with other officials from Water Stewardship, Emergency Measures Organization and Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives, who were generous with their time. However, many members wonder if the government is aware of the severity of the situation.

“We’re dealing with a disaster, and there’s no end in sight. Until we see the shovel in the dirt to build this channel, it’s hard not to be skeptical,” says Tom Teichroeb, Lake Manitoba Flood Rehabilitation Committee Chairperson. “At best, I would say we are cautiously optimistic.”

The Lake Manitoba Flood Rehabilitation Committee represents the 11 municipalities surrounding Lake Manitoba. It gives voice to the urgent needs of all residents and businesses for an immediate solution to the flooding. It seeks adequate and inclusive compensation for the rehabilitation of land, businesses and residential properties damaged by the man-made flooding of Lake Manitoba.

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