The bright skies and the warm weather over Manitoba are good news. But, we must not forget about those who are still hurting and who are still suffering as a result of last year's flood. Those of us who live between Portage and Winnipeg or in Winnipeg have been the beneficiaries of the Portage Diversion and the water which flowed into Lake Manitoba. But many around Lake Manitoba who were sacrificed during the flood are still in a very difficult position. People like Jonas Johnson (left side in photo above) and Darrel Armstrong (right side in photo above) received no income from their land which was flooded last year, and because the level of Lake Manitoba remains high at 813.5 feet above sea level (one foot above the normal operating level which goes up to 812.5 feet above sea level), and because of drainage issues which I will get into shortly, it is looking as if they may not get any income from their land this year.
Last Sunday, when I visited with Jonas, Darrel and Philip Thordarson, the Reeve of the RM of Lakeview (on my right), the land in this area remained flooded. The top two fields, with lots of water and bullrushes, are normally productive grain fields. The third photo shows a field which is normally alfalfa. These fields are still wet and are now covered with saline (salt) silt and debris which will make recovery slow and difficult, and very unlikely there will be any crop this year. As Jonas said "Farm, Ranch & Forage property lay
destroyed covered with salinity caused by months under flood waters. Many acres are also covered in silt and debris
is everywhere." It is not pretty. And the top two fields normally have produced excellent grain crops.
And now to the drainage issue. This area, near Big Point, is about 8 km north of the outlet from the Portage Diversion. Ever since the Portage Diversion began to operate in the 1970s, the creeks which flow through this area have silted in so that the water does not move as quickly through the creeks and the land does not drain well. (photo 3 shows a drainage ditch which goes into a creek - the water is hardly moving). The sediment in the water coming through the Portage Diversion moves north from the outlet and deposits in the creeks. It exacerbates the problems of trying to farm here. There have been attempts on several occasions to clean out the creeks, but the solution so far has only worked temporarily as the creeks silt in again after a few years. Thus, farmers in this area have had not only the excess water through the Portage Diversion last year which contributed to a the major flood, but also long term issues related to the Portage Diversion. As they look this year at their fields, they are looking at the almost certainty that they may not have income from their land again this year and that they will have expenses related to getting the fields ready for next year. They are asking, will the province help them for a second year until they can get their land back to where it was, or will the province forget about them?