Table of Contents
2: Location, Borders, and Lakes
3: Geologic Structure and Landforms
6: Pre-historic and Early Historic Settlements
7: Survey Systems
8: Southern Hamlets, Villages, and Towns
9: Mennonite and Hutterite Settlements
10: First Nations Settlements
11: Northern Settlements
12: The Southern Cities
13: Mining and Oil Extraction
15: Industry / Manufacturing
16: Water Resources
17: Parks, Recreation, Sports
18: Transport and Communications: Past and Present
19: Legal Issues and Law Enforcement
16: Water Resources
Click for chapter introduction
Manitoba has an abundant supply of surface water with many large lakes and thousands of smaller ones (chapter 2). However, much of the water is in the north or drains to the north where there is a sparse population. In the south dams and reservoirs have been constructed to conserve water in some areas, whereas in other places projects were designed to drain water from the land to make it suitable for cultivation. The province’s rivers offered enormous potential for hydroelectric power, much of which has now been exploited, starting with a small-scale project on the Little Saskatchewan River and progressing to large projects on the Winnipeg, Saskatchewan and Nelson rivers. Two thermal power stations at Brandon and Selkirk on the Assiniboine and Red rivers illustrate the need for an assurred water supply. Flooding has been a problem since the earliest days of the province, especially along the Assiniboine and Red rivers culminating in the 1997 “Flood of the Century” in the Red River Valley. Dams, diversions and ring dikes are used to divert the floodwaters to less critical areas.
16.51: The Red River Floodway at Birds Hill
Shown here is part of the Red River Floodway 1 in the northeast, just southeast of Bird’s Hill (off the photo to the left). The channel cuts through the Bird’s Hill esker complex requiring the deepest excavation anywhere along its course. Sand and gravel pits east of the floodway 2 have destroyed the continuity of the esker surface; in several places water now occupies the bottom of the pits 3. Light-toned areas on the floodway 4 indicate that sand and gravel outcrop on the sides of the channel. Two channelized streams 5 flow along the sides of the floodway in the south, that to the east eventually running down into the floodway. PTH 59 6, which runs along the east side of the Red River and the east side of Lake Winnipeg to Victoria Beach, crosses the floodway 7 and becomes a divided highway to the east 8.
In addition to floodway features the photo shows very clearly the juxtaposition of the long lot system of land division—based on the Red River—to the west and the DLS system, with its square sections, to the east. The contact is best seen where a partial section (34, 11, 4E) 9 comes into contact with the long lot systems to the west 10. Although fields in both areas are small, the orientation is different—east/west in the partial section 11 and northwest/southeast in the long lot area 12. Section 35, township 11, range 4E 13 is markedly misshapen, more like a parallelogram than the ideal square. Also it is divided into many small fields 14, more like the situation in the long lot areas but with north/south or east/west orientation. Dwellings are located mainly along the peripheries of the sections 15.
The floodway shown in figures 16.49, 16.50, and 16.51 has been remarkably successful. It has been used in 17 springs since it was completed in 1968 at a cost of $63 million. It was used in 1979 when Red River flows were just as high as in 1950 and in 1997 when they were greater. However, it is still not big enough to cope with a flood as big as that in 1826 so plans are underway to increase its carrying capacity.
Figure 16.51: The Red River Floodway at Birds Hill
Vertical air photograph: A27254-33
Flight height: 13,300 feet a.s.l.; lens focal length: 152.033 mm
Scale: 1:25,100 (approx.)
Date: April 14, 1988
Location: Township 11; Range 4E
Map sheets: 1:250,000 62H Winnipeg
1:50,000 62H/14 Winnipeg