A picture from the air of some areas affected by the 2011 flood

A professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Manitoba is calling for an independent review of the handling of this year's flood.

Jay Doering recently issued a scathing report that outlines the failures of the provincial government in numerous areas pertaining to the 2011 flood.  Doering says forecasting crest levels was the biggest challenge for government officials, and more often than not, they were wrong - very wrong.

"The over-predicting of the Red River was the biggest thing.  Officials said to expect flood levels that were comparable to 1997, but got levels that were 4-5ft. lower.  The city literally invests millions of dollars in preparing for those last few feet, so it is important we get that right," he says.  The false predictions weren't just confined to the Red River though, "Inaccurately predicting the flows of the Assiniboine in Brandon could have had catastrophic consequences.  Fortunately, only a small amount of water managed to squeak through the protection that was in place."

Now, while Doering's report certainly points a few fingers, the purpose of it is not just that.  He says it's mainly about future planning.

"I think the important thing here is to understand why the province has struggled this year.  I don't recollect them struggling this much in previous years, so I think we need to understand what has changed, what do we need to do and how do we fix it."

He insists the proper solutions will only be found by conducting an independent review.  And when Doering say 'independent', he means conducted by outside sources.

"I don't think you can use any of the local consultants.  I think there will be some apprehension to bite the hand that feeds them.  Most of the consultants, if not all of them, have contracts with the City of Winnipeg or with the Province.  I think there's going to be a significant reluctance to be critical and perhaps get to the bottom of it.  That's why I'm suggesting it needs to be an independent review."

When asked if he himself would sit on such a review panel, he says it's not for him to volunteer.  He is certainly willing to offer up a couple of suggestions to solve some of the issues he saw.

"Install the gates on the Shellmouth Reservoir and look at ways of using the Shellmouth Reservoir to help with what we term as 'peak shave' flows on the Assiniboine River.  Restore the Lower Assiniboine River dikes to their design capacity and develop and implement a plan to ensure that the level of protection on the Assiniboine River is comparable to that on the Red River."

Doering's report is not all bad.  He does give flood officials credit for their work with the Portage Diversion.

"Being able to put another 9,000 cubic ft. down the Portage Diversion was absolute brilliance on the part of the province and those in Water Stewardship.  Finding a way to do that certainly alleviated a lot of flooding on the lower Assiniboine River."

Doering compiled his report after being interviewed and asked for his opinion numerous times by media outlets throughout the flood season.  So, what do government officials think of his report?  He doesn't know, nor is he asking.

"I suspect that they decided essentially not to respond to it and would probably say they've already responded to it when I brought up certain issues earlier in the year."

You can read Doering's report below:

Reflections on the 2011 Flood

I have been approached by news media regarding a retrospective on the flood of 2011. In particular, I have been asked to comment on the 2011 flood forecasting.
To this end I would like to offer some observations to all news media.

In addition to the many properties that were saved from flooding, the most significant provincial success during the 2011 Manitoba Flood was the ability to
increase the capacity of the Portage Diversion from its design capacity of 25,000 cfs to nearly 34,000 cfs. This increase of 36% is a terrific example of real time
engineering during a time of need.

The biggest challenge of the 2011 flood was flood forecasting. Specifically:

1. Red River at Winnipeg: predicted crest up to 24 ft (i.e., similar to 1997) actual crest of 19.6 ft

Consequences: considerable money spent on emergency flood protection that wasn’t required. Unnecessary heightened state of anxiety in the City of Winnipeg.

2. Assiniboine River at Brandon: predicted peak of 33,500 cfs - actual peak of 37,500 cfs

Consequences: near insufficient capacity along 18th street dykes; could have led to significant flooding in the City of Brandon.

3. Assiniboine River at Portage reservoir: predicted peak of 56,000 cfs - actual peak of 52,000 cfs

Consequences: Hoop and Holler cut was unnecessary. Flow had crested at/before time of the cut.

4. Souris River at Souris: predicted peak of 38,000 cfs - actual peak of 27,500 cfs

Consequences: considerable money spent on emergency flood protection for flows that didn’t occur.

5. Lake Manitoba water levels: initially predictions were much too low while subsequent predictions were too high

There were other challenges during the 2011 flood, such as the condition of the lower Assiniboine River dykes. The dykes reportedly were unable to convey
more than 18,000 cfs, well below their design capacity of approximately 22,500 cfs. This reach of river conveyed 24,600 cfs during the 1976 with the assistance
of flashboards. Millions were spent raising these dykes after the initial spring flood outlook, yet the raised portions of the dykes never saw water. We need to
maintain our flood infrastructure rather than scramble to refurbish neglected infrastructure during a time of need.

The following actions are required:

• need an independent review of the handling of the 2011 flood
• need an independent review of flood forecasting to determine what is needed to yield accurate flood forecasts
• install the promised gates on the Shellmouth Reservoir and look at ways to use the reservoir and its future gates to peak shave future floods on the Assiniboine River
• restore the lower Assiniboine River dykes to their design capacity
• develop and implement a plan to increase the level of flood protection on the Assiniboine River comparable to that provided by the Red River infrastructure. Such a plan needs to consider the impacts on Lake Manitoba and areas downstream.