Four separate initiatives will help improve Manitoba's ability to fight floods and manage water in the province, according to Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton.
The initiative includes an independent eight-person task force that will look at Manitoba's record flooding in 2011.
"Record flooding affected thousands of Manitoba families in 2011 and the rapid and extended response by provincial and local officials was unprecedented," Ashton said. "Manitoba has a history of learning from major floods and taking steps to improve flood-fighting tools for the future. The findings of the task force and these other initiatives will be a critical part of our ongoing improvement of flood management in the province going forward."
The flood review task force, chaired by civil engineer David Farlinger, is expected to release a public report by late summer examining a number of areas and focusing on how they can be improved for future flood events including:
They will look at, provincial and municipal preparedness and response, flood forecasting, public communications and information sharing, operation of flood control infrastructure, and flood protection works.
"The task force will have full access to provincial records and staff, can seek outside expertise and can consult with municipalities and other external groups as it sees fit," said Ashton. "As we are preparing for potential flooding in the spring of 2012, the task force will also be asked to make interim recommendations if they see an opportunity for immediate improvement in flood preparation or response."
The minister also announced future water management concepts will be examined through a Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin regulation review committee, a flood-mitigation study for the Lake Manitoba watershed and the Assiniboine River basin, and a forum leading to a province wide surface water management strategy.
"The 2011 flood affected many areas of the province which have not seen major flooding in several decades," said Ashton. "And we are still fighting the flood now. There are families that still have not been able to return home and there is ongoing uncertainty about lake levels and what future floods may bring. The initiatives we are announcing today are the first step towards better long-term flood protection and water management in the areas of the province hit by record flooding last year."