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Lots of rain prolongs Manitoba's flood season; puts pressure on waterways

WINNIPEG - An unusually large amount of rain has prolonged Manitoba's flood season, pushing lakes and rivers around the province to record levels.

Emergency Measures Minister Steve Ashton said some regions received 200 per cent more precipitation than normal in both April and May — and more rain is forecast.

"That is putting pressure on lakes and rivers throughout the watershed," he said at a flood briefing Wednesday. "We're not at flood level yet but we are certainly above the desired level in terms of regulation."

Forecasters say the rain has pushed water levels up on the Assiniboine River, on Lake Manitoba and in eastern Manitoba. Officials say some lakes in Whiteshell Provincial Park are at record levels.

They say water has been diverted away from Lake Manitoba and into the Assiniboine River and that, combined with the increased rain, has cause some agricultural land downstream to flood.

The province is applying for federal permission to operate the emergency outlet at Lake St. Martin which diverts water from Lake Manitoba into Lake Winnipeg, Ashton said. It may not be necessary, but Ashton said when water is high, the "situation can develop fairly quickly."

A significant wind on Lake Manitoba can push water levels up even higher and damage waterfront property, he said.

Steve Topping, executive director of hydrologic forecasting and water management, the precipitation has made it a "challenging flood season."

Just as some of the water is starting to recede, Topping said another weather system bringing significant precipitation is expected to arrive in Manitoba dumping up to 30 millimetres of rain on already sodden ground.

"That could recharge the system again," he said. "This is becoming a long-duration flood."

While lakes and rivers may be at record levels, there have been no evacuation orders given and no municipalities are expected to declare a state of emergency. Topping said land that is flooded now is largely agricultural.

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