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Campground, fields deluged; flood forecast blamed

The Portage Diversion

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Enlarge Image

The Portage Diversion

A campground west of Winnipeg was still pumping out water and cleaning up Tuesday after it was deluged by water from the Assiniboine River on the weekend.

The Winnipeg West KOA campground off the Trans-Canada Highway at St. François Xavier had to shut down and tell its customers they had to leave because of high water. They and the Progressive Conservatives blame the incident on the provincial government, saying its flood forecast was wrong.

Morris PC MLA Shannon Martin said a small number of seeded fields were also flooded, ruining the chances of a profitable harvest. He raised the matter in question period Tuesday.

Martin said the farmers put their crops in based on information from the province's flood-forecast website.

"One farmer said he might as well have thrown his money into the river for all the good the flood forecast has done for him," Martin said, adding he believes leading up to the weekend the site had not been updated since May 16.

"Where are they supposed to get accurate information from, if not from the government's own flood forecast?"

The province says the water level rose on the Assiniboine River because the province is diverting less water through the Portage Diversion into Lake Manitoba, which on Monday was at 813.15 feet above sea level. Flood level is 814 feet. During the 2011 flood, Lake Manitoba saw its level peak at 817.05 feet. Weekend rain storms also raised the river level.

Steve Ashton, Manitoba's emergency measures minister, said the province provided information on the increased flow on the Assiniboine River to affected municipalities and updated its website accordingly, although it wasn't updated over the past weekend. It was only updated Tuesday.

Because of localized flooding, the province lowered the flow on the Assiniboine River Saturday evening from 12,000 cubic feet per second to 11,000 cfs and to 10,500 cfs Tuesday morning.

"We've got to balance the management of the Assiniboine River and the Portage Diversion," Ashton said. "We've got to be fair to everyone. Are there going to impacts? Yes."

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

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