Tag Archives: Lake St. Martin

WFP The View from the West: Peter Schroedter

A commentary from Peter Schroedter in The View from the West in today’s Free Press.

“I am one of the people affected and even though my losses are minor compared to those who have lost everything, this government-caused flood has become the defining event in my adult life.”


Lake St. Martin Emergency Channel Update: Province of Manitoba

On November 1, the following update was posted on the Province of Manitoba’s Flood Information website.

  • Exploratory work for possible channel locations started July 4.
  • Logistical work such as setting up camps, building an access road and establishing drainage started in early July and additional contractors began work Aug. 15.
  • Actual channel digging started Aug. 29.
  • More than 130 workers have been involved in this construction project. At times, the Aboriginal worker complement was up to 50 per cent.
  • The total excavation project moved about 1.5 million cubic metres of material. Approximately 30,000 more cubic metres of rock were also used.
  • Ditches, dikes and temporary roads have been constructed on either side of the 6.5 kilometre (about four-mile) outlet.
  • The 95 pieces of heavy equipment used included excavators, bulldozers and rock trucks, one dredge, two Amphibex machines, one floating excavator, four barges, four tugs, two helicopters, 15 boats, 10 high-velocity pumps and 30 support vehicles.

Create a flood commission: Scott Forbes, WFP

In today’s WFP View from the West, Scott Forbes says we need a flood commission so the province is prepared for floods in  increasingly unpredictable times.

“Clearly the lake has been managed to sit in the upper reaches of the operating range: residents around Lake Manitoba who have argued that for years the lake has been too high have been correct.

The government of Manitoba needs to establish a blue ribbon Assiniboine Flood Commission that brings together stakeholders — the residents of the Assiniboine basin, farmers, ranchers and business owners — with our best hydrologists and engineers to design a comprehensive water management strategy.

We don’t need finger-pointing and political games. We do need to identify shortfalls in our current flood preparations and a logical plan to address these needs expeditiously.”

Province to open channel, lower Lake St. Martin: WFP video

The Winnipeg Free Press has aerial video footage of the emergency channel. Includes brief interview with Premier Selinger.

Greg’s gorge nearly finished: WFP

Winnipeg Free Press story about the completion of the emergency channel.

“”It’s been an extraordinary accomplishment,” Selinger said Friday, as he and others toured the massive construction by helicopter and ground. “Everyone pulled together to get this done.”

Selinger said work on the $100-million channel will be finished on schedule, by Tuesday, allowing heavy equipment to slowly remove an earth berm that separates the mouth of the channel from a still-flooded Lake St. Martin.

That task will take about a day, but when gone it will allow about 7,000 cubic feet per second of water from Lake St. Martin to flow down the channel towards a huge marsh, where it will spread out and slowly make its way towards Lake Winnipeg.”

Progress report from province of MB website

Today’s update from the province on the emergency channel:

  • Construction of the Lake St. Martin Emergency Channel is over 75 per cent complete and remains on track to be finished in November. However, progress on the final stage depends on weather conditions and logistical issues;
  • Once the project is completed it will result in lower levels on Lake St. Martin;
  • The Fairford Dam Structure is expected to remain open throughout the winter, which will help lower Lake Manitoba water levels;
  • Over 130 workers and 95 pieces of heavy equipment continue to work on the project. The Aboriginal employment rate on the project has ranged up to 50 per cent;
  • Ditches, dikes and temporary roads have been constructed on either side of the 6.5 kilometre outlet and most of the outlet has now been built;
  • 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;
  • Plans are now underway, and an open tender will be issued very soon, for construction of an extended reach of the channel from Buffalo Creek to Lake Winnipeg. This will help ease spring break-up and ice jam-related flooding along the Dauphin River by diverting water more directly into Lake Winnipeg. This reach of the channel project was outlined as a possible component in the original project description and is accounted for in the initial cost estimates. Once the main portion of the channel is completed and operational in November, construction of the extended reach will begin with a goal of it being operational before the spring melt.
Visit the Lake St. Martin Emergency Channel update page here. You can also see photos and aerial footage.

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.

LMFRC seeks proposed channel data; seeks true consultation with government

 (WINNIPEG, Manitoba) August 11, 2011 – The Lake Manitoba Flood Rehabilitation Committee (LMFRC) met with government officials for further clarification about plans to lower the level of Lake Manitoba immediately and into next spring. The committee was told a 30-member engineering team worked around the clock to analyze every possible channel option.

However, officials including Infrastructure and Transportation Deputy Minister Doug McNeil and Manitoba Water Stewardship’s Steve Topping, said the detailed information was not prepared for public distribution at this time. The LMFRC hopes the province will consider sharing this information with taxpayers across the province as it becomes available.

“We are grateful the government is moving forward with a project that will improve the drainage of Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin. The LMFRC feels the rural municipalities should have access to the information used in designing the emergency drainage channels and should be involved in this process,” says Tom Teichroeb, LMFRC Chairperson.

Frustrating to the LMFRC is the constant refrain from Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation Steve Ashton that the government is collaborating with municipalities. To date, the LMFRC has not been involved in any consultation about the emergency drainage channel.

“Not one municipality has received one phone call looking for information about these proposed routes,” says Teichroeb. “Telling us their plan is not consultation. The people who earn their living on and around this lake would like to be involved in the decisions that are affecting the management of Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin.”

The Lake Manitoba Flood Rehabilitation Committee represents 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.