Big trouble on the Little Saskatchewan, MIT shoring up spillway

A 1 in a 1000 year event? Oak River, Rivers, Minnedosa, Neepawa, Rapid City, and Brandon EMO on high alert.

On Thursday, July 2, following monsoon rain that brought six plus inches in the latter part of Sunday, June 28, the Rivers dam is still standing, but with the addition of three inches Monday, the spillway is carrying twice the volume of the flood of the century in 2011. Running at 12,000 cubic feet/second (5,000 cfs in 2011) Manitoba Infrastructure, under the advice of government and private engineering firms has lost confidence that the dam will hold.

Residents in the Oak River and Rivers areas report rain amounts in some areas closer to 10 inches over the two big rains.

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At 8 p.m. on Canada Day, the province called for a voluntary evacuation of about 40 families and all livestock immediately downstream of the spillway.

If the Rivers dam gave way, a wall of water could rush down the narrow valley. Minister of Infrastructure Ron Schuler emphasized in a news conference at 1 p.m. on July 2, the evacuation advice is “out of an abundance of caution.”

The Reeve of Riverdale conceded the loss of his home at 1:30 a.m. when water topped the sandbags.

Highway 25 at the Little Saskatchewan bridge below the spillway is now closed as erosion has taken place, despite MIT’s efforts.

Throughout the area, at points of stress such as along the spillway, MIT has dumped stone to protect infrastructure.

A good sign, Schuler reported, “The water flowing down the spillway is like glass.” A muddy flow would indicate that turbulence was eroding the ground around the spillway, but engineers who are monitoring the spillway 24/7 say that has not occurred as of midday July 2.

Downstream at Brandon, Schuler said Brandon has put in a plug. A temporary dike has been constructed where Grand Valley Road joins 18th St.

Some Brandon residents have already suffered huge flood damage. The only way into Brandon is on Hwy 1.

The public is asked to stay out of the Rivers area. Circumstances can change quickly the minister emphasized and MIT/emergency crews are at work.

Meanwhile, throughout the entire waterway, from Minnedosa, Neepawa and on to Branndon, Portage and Winnipeg, Emergency Measures Organizations are on alert.

MIT is watching the sky and hoping forecasted rain will stay away.

© Virden Empire-Advance