Red River Floodway

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Red River Floodway

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In 1950, Winnipeg experienced one of the last major floods from the Red River. With 103,000 cubic feet per second of water flow and 30.2 feet above the city datum during the flood, the Government of Canada decided to investigate flood prevention measures for the Red and Assiniboine River basins. On average, the City of Winnipeg could expect floods equal to, or surpassing, the flood of 1950 every thirty-six years. The Royal Commission on Flood Cost Benefit was established in 1958, and it recommended that the best form of flood prevention was the construction of the Red River Floodway.

In mid-1961, at the request of the Province of Manitoba (Department of Agriculture, Water Control and Conservation Branch), the University of Manitoba was asked to perform model studies tests of the inlet and outlet models of the Red River Floodway. After receiving the necessary grant, Marshal Gysi, engineer in charge at the University, searched for a suitable location to perform these studies and finally decided upon the basement of the new Animal Sciences Building. Under the direction of R. L. Walker, project engineer at H. G. Acres and Co. Ltd (consulting engineers in Niagara Falls), the Civil Engineering Department at the University was to test the models with the data supplied by H. G. Acres. Consequently, any changes in model design could be done only with the approval of this consulting firm.

The purpose of the outlet model was to determine if any modifications to the design were necessary in order to prevent scouring at the junction of the Floodway and the Red River or further downstream. Construction of the model began December 18, 1961, and care was taken to prevent any water leakage in the model. In order to test for sediment build-up, scouring, and flow patterns, a number of tests were conducted using different flow velocities and amounts of water. Confetti and dye (potassium permanganate) were distributed in the water and observations were made on their flow characteristics. The final test was conducted in October 1962.

The inlet model was constructed between April 17 and May 31, 1962 and the tests consisted of four stages. Stage I, June 7-12, was concerned only with the river downstream of the control structure. The purpose of stage I was to ascertain what would happen to the river during "high-stage natural flooding." Another determination to be made was to find an artificial method of imitating floodplain roughness. Stage 2 tests, June 26 - July 2, were designed to find the location of the "transition zone and bordering dykes" which would provide suitable "approach conditions" and weaken the effects of scouring. The third stage of tests occurred August 20-22. There were four designs to the diversion canals. One canal would bypass the water flow of the Red River around the control devices during construction, and stage 3 was to determine which canal model would be the most efficient. The final stage on the inlet model was to find the "rip-rap requirements" upstream and downstream of the control structure. In addition, stage 4 was to provide a "rating curve" for the control structure.

Upon completion of the tests, all pertinent data was forwarded for final study to H. G. Acres and Co. in Niagara Falls. In July 1964, construction of the Red River Floodway began with the design configurations supplied by Acres. The Floodway took approximately three years to construct at an expense of about $57 million.

Chronology of Important Dates

Mid-1961. Project undertaken at the University at the request of the Province of Manitoba.

Dec. 18, 1961. Construction of outlet model begun.

Dec. 18, 1961. Construction of outlet model begun.

April 17, 1962. Construction of inlet model begun.

June 7, 1962. Start of stage 1 tests on inlet model.

Oct. 4, 1962. State 4 tests of inlet model completed.

Oct. 22, 1962. Final outlet model test.

July 11, 1964. Construction of Floodway begins.


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Created by John Burgess (1990). Revised by N. Courrier (September 2019).




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