Drone footage shows Amphibex machines working to break up ice on the Red River in the St. Andrews and St. Clements municipalities in March 2019. (Trevor Lyons/CBC)
May 5 2019 – Kevin Yaworski – Concerned Citizen
Thanks to a friend for sharing some interesting history about an ice jam on the Red River in 1826.
This reminded me of the volunteering I have done to help with sandbagging many times for friends and strangers on the Red whoes properties were in harms way. Ice jams on the Red are nothing new but would be happening much more frequently then they used to, due to the cutters and amphibex they using now to break up the ice earlier. My friends got tired of having to flood protect their property so many times they sold and have moved.
There has been repeat extreme flooding with several “one in a century” floods over a decade or less for the Red, Assinoboine, St. Lawrence and other large rivers or waterways in Canada abd elsewhere.
For many in some areas that have become more flood prone it not easy to sell. In some cases it cheaper and wiser for governments (tax payer funded) that zoned these areas for property development to pay to relocate rather than repair or rebuild at the same location.
The cottages and homes my dad, grandparents, aunts, friends and many others had at Twin Beaches on Lake Manitoba have all been destroyed from repeat flooding and ice damage after the lake kept artificially high by MB Hydro and diverting flood waters from the Assinoboine. Our family was there for at least 30 years with no damage and were some of the fortunate ones to have sold before they destroyed. I flew over the area with my friend in his small plane recently and was shocked how few homes and cottages left and how the area along with much of the Delta region is unrecognizable. Many still fighting for compensation.
Droughts, flooding, tropical storms, storm surges and other extreme weather has been happening for eons but the frequency, rapid acceleration and severity is what is concerning many.
The increase in frequency and severity of flooding is partly due to farmers draining areas of their land that normally retain, filter and slow water flow naturally and our climate changing. Now governments (taxpayers) compensating some farmers for land purposely flooded or to not drain their land artificially to prevent Cities like Winnipeg and others from flooding.
Regular changes of water levels from flooding or periods of low percipitation help lake Winnipeg and MB stay healthy and many species depend on this especially at the large river deltas of the Red, North Saskatchewan and others.
MB Hydro signed long term contracts with several US state energy utilities and if there is multi years with low percipitation and power production from hydro low they have to burn natural gas to meet local and export demands which is costly and limited.
They choose to elevate levels in both lakes to act as reservoirs in case they needed. Then if there is flooding and storms there is little room to absorb the water and energy which results in major errosion and property damage if too close to the shore.
My Mom and step father had property by lake Winnipeg near Balsam harbour / Beconia from the 80’s till last year and the shoreline only started to errode drastically once the water levels were being maintained higher artifically. Some structures on shorline properties were lost or had to be moved but not as bad as lake Manitoba. The metal and concrete warf at Balsam harbour and docks were severely damaged or destroyed from repeat storms even with large stone break water and they had to be rebuilt.
Heavy use of fertalizers on farm land and over application on residential lawns, other agro bio tech chemicals, draining farm land quickly, high phosphate detergents and other households waste has been increasing algae blooms and other issues affecting fish and other species.
I have heard lawn care companies that were using slow release and sustainable fertilizers are being asked why don’t you use liquid and apply three times a season like their competitors and even when they explain they sometimes lose business or don’t get a chance to explain. Liquid gets washed away easily and is often over applied.
As consumers we need to make an effort to get informed and make sustainable choices. If more composted their leaves, grass clippings and appropriate household organic waste plus periodically overseed they would not need to fertilize. There is also natural ways to deal with weeds but a healthy lawn will make this much easier.
Some steps being taken to reduce phosphate and runoff etc.. We are heading in the right direction but there is much more that is needed to restore us to being sustainable and leaving places we live, visit or use the way we found them or better. Especially if we or others depend on them for sustenance and health.
More on the concerns of rapid climate change here with facts and opinions from multiple sources.