Manitoba closing breach in dike as river crests

Manitoba authorities on Friday started closing a breach they had opened last week in a dike on the Assiniboine River as water levels dropped and the threat to populated areas receded.

The Assiniboine, which reached the highest levels on record this spring and contributed to the evacuation of 3,400 residents across the province, has crested along most points, the Manitoba government said in a statement.

Manitoba took the controversial action of opening its Assiniboine dike at Hoop and Holler Bend on Saturday, deliberately flooding 3.4 square kilometres of mostly farmland to ease pressure on the dike.

The affected area was far less than the 225 square kilometers the province had expected, as a spell of warm, dry weather settled in over the past week.

Closing the breach near Portage la Prairie was to take several hours Friday afternoon and, officials warned, the closure may not be permanent.

Manitoba officials are concerned about the condition of its flood defences after holding in such high river levels. Officials are also closely watching the weather with a rainstorm forecast for parts of the Prairies this weekend.

An “unstable weather system” is developing in North Dakota and Montana and parts of southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba, the province said in its flood bulletin Friday.

This system may bring over 60 millimetres of rain in “localized areas” of Saskatchewan and Manitoba over the Victoria Day weekend, the province said.

A high water advisory for the Souris River has now been upgraded to a flood watch as a result, the province said.

The Souris originates in Saskatchewan, passes through North Dakota and joins the Assiniboine near Wawanesa, Man., southeast of Brandon.

— With files from

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