It is another sign that spring is just around the corner. Our province is starting to cut ice this week along the Red River, in anticipation of the spring melt.

The Manitoba government will begin is annual ice cutting program from Selkirk to Netley Marsh to reduce the potential impacts of ice-jam related flooding. The ice cutting and breaking work will start on Tuesday and is expected to be completed on March 15.

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 other rivers. Ice jams occur when floating ice blocks downstream movement, causing water to back up and possibly overflow riverbanks.

Remote-controlled ice-cutting units and three Amphibex icebreakers are used each year to cut and break approximately 28 kilometres of ice on the river for an approximate width of 100 metres. Ice-cutting and breaking operations are frequently undertaken on the Icelandic River at Riverton and at the outlet of the Portage Diversion. Currently, ice-cutting operations are not expected to be required at Riverton or the Portage Diversion, but the province will continue to monitor these areas.

Notices will be posted in areas where the ice-cutting machines are operating. River users are advised to stay off the ice where notices are posted or where evidence of recent ice cutting is apparent. Ice fishers are also reminded to remove huts or other materials in the areas where the ice-mitigation program is taking place.