May 20, 2011 / 6:25 PM / in 7 years

Manitoba to close breach in dike as river crests

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Manitoba authorities on Friday started closing a breach they had opened last week in a dike on the Assiniboine River as water levels dropped in the Canadian province and the threat to populated areas receded.

The Assiniboine, which reached the highest levels on record this spring and contributed to the evacuation of 3,400 residents across the province, has crested along most points, the Manitoba government said in a statement.

Closing the dike breach near Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, was to take several hours and may not be permanent.

Manitoba officials are concerned about the condition of its flood defenses after holding in such high river levels. Officials are also closely watching the weather with a rainstorm forecast for parts of the Canadian Prairies this weekend.

Manitoba took the controversial action on May 14 of deliberately flooding 3.4 square kilometers of mostly farmland to ease pressure on the dike. The affected area was far less than the 225 square kilometers the province had expected, as a spell of warm, dry weather settled in over the past week.

Reporting by Rod Nickel; Editing by Frank McGurty

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