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Ice-cutting operations begin on Red River to reduce potential for ice jams

Monday, February 22nd 2021, 1:34 pm - Machinery cuts, breaks about 28 km of ice on Red River from Selkirk to Netley Creek each spring

Ice-cutting operations will start this week on the Red River as the province aims to prevent ice jams from forming when the spring thaw eventually arrives.

"Predicting when and how our rivers' ice will break up naturally is complex due to varying conditions," Manitoba Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler said in a news release on Monday.

"Knowing this, our government is remaining vigilant and prepared by implementing the ice-jam mitigation program."

Every spring, ice jams are an extremely unpredictable and worrisome issue. Solid ice on the river can cause a dam that blocks the river, forcing it to back up and overflow its banks.

cbc: An Amphibex crawls across and crushes Red River ice near Selkirk in 2019. (Tyson Koschik/CBC) An Amphibex crawls across and crushes Red River ice near Selkirk in 2019. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

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The ice-jam mitigation program, which consists of cutting and breaking river ice, was launched in 2006 to reduce the risk of flooding caused by ice jams on the lower Red River and several other rivers.

Remote-controlled ice-cutting units and three Amphibex icebreakers are used each year to cut and break approximately 28 kilometres of ice on the Red River from Selkirk to Netley Creek for an approximate width of 100 metres.

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Ice cutting and breaking is also often completed on the Icelandic River at Riverton and at the outlet of the Portage Diversion.

Notices have been posted in areas where the ice-cutting machines will be working and river users are advised to stay off the ice where notices are posted or where evidence of recent ice cutting is apparent for their own safety.

Ice fishers are also reminded to remove huts or other materials in the areas covered by the ice-mitigation program, the province said.

This article was originally published for CBC News.

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