Flood gates to control

Aerial View, looking ENE

Aerial View, looking ENE

When they talk about opening the Red River floodgates what are the floodgates? How do they work?


Barry's Response - There's a floodway south of Winnipeg, designed to divert excess water around the city instead of through it. Over 40 km long, it diverts water around Winnipeg's east side and dumps it back into the river near Selkirk. They built it with a capacity of over 2500 m3 per second.

In some circles, Duff's Ditch has saved the city's neck a few times. Flood gates control the flow rate of water into the channel and in flood years they'll close them again to divert the water.

As for the original question, I assume the floodgates are the gates on the Red River system. Floodgates control water flow. Depending on the need and circumstances, they let or stop water from flowing into a system.

The spillway doesn't have gates. Water direction in the Winnipeg system is controlled by a dam in the main flow, which reduces flow into the city, a backup upstream, and automatic discharge into a sideways floodway.

It floods land and property that's not designed for water flows or storage, but most Manitobans think it's better than flooding the city. Most of the time.

So they use it only for major, potentially catastrophic floods, and let the city watercourse handle minor flash floods.

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Winnipeg's Red River Floodway, also known as "Duff's Ditch," has an interesting story of human engineering and response to a recurring natural disaster.

Winnipeg's Red River Floodway demonstrates great determination and innovation in response to recurrent flooding. It shows the visionary leadership of then-Premier Duff Roblin and the collective effort of engineers and workers who were part of the development. Despite devastating floods, Winnipeg's floodway has stood as a symbol of resilience and human ingenuity. Here's the story behind it:

Winnipeg experienced devastating floods in the mid-20th century because of the overflow of the Red River, causing significant damage to homes, infrastructure, and the local economy. Almost every spring, floods threatened the city and its residents. Somebody saw an increasing need for a solution.

The story continues with the devastating flood of 1950, which led to widespread destruction. Political leaders and engineers took notice of the flooding and scoured for a permanent solution. In 1958, a comprehensive flood control plan was put forward.

Premier Duff Roblin spearheaded the floodway channel project. A portion of the Red River was diverted around the city to prevent flooding. It took a lot of engineering expertise and a lot of money.

Construction of the Red River Floodway started in 1962 and took several years to finish. A massive channel was excavated, spanning 47 kilometers (29 miles), that would divert excess water away from and around the city during high river levels. To control the flow of water, the floodway had channels, bridges, and sluice gates.

In 1968, Winnipeg's history changed with the completion of the floodway. It gave residents a much-needed sense of security and protected them from floods in the future. Subsequent floods tested the floodway's effectiveness. Every time, the floodway diverted water, saving the city from widespread flooding.

The Red River Floodway shows a testament to human ingenuity and perseverance. In engineering history, it shows how innovative solutions can mitigate the impact of recurring problems.

Through the tireless effort of engineers, the resilience of the affected communities, collective relief and gratitude followed. The Red River Floodway was a defining chapter in Winnipeg's history and a symbol of triumph over nature in his story.

Does it have the potential to be breached?

While the Red River Floodway is designed to withstand regular flood events and has proven effective over the years, a breach remains a perpetual possibility. The flood protection system needs to be monitored, maintained, and adapted to changing conditions to stay effective and reliable.

Even though the Red River Floodway has proved highly effective at mitigating flood risks and protecting Winnipeg from major inundation, no flood protection system is impervious to breaches or failures. To minimize the risk of breaches, the floodway was designed and built with extensive safeguards.

The floodway's infrastructure, including channels, control structures, and sluice gates, has been built to withstand high water levels and maintain water flow diversion. Based on historical data and hydraulic modeling, the design accounts for different flood scenarios.

The team also inspects, maintains, and monitors the system on a regular basis. To keep the system working, any potential weaknesses or issues are addressed immediately. However, extreme weather events and unprecedented flood conditions can pose significant challenges to flood protection infrastructure. The possibility of climate change increasing extreme weather events adds another layer of uncertainty to flood control measures' long-term resilience.

This has caused concern among some.

During the historic flood of 1997, one of the most significant flooding events in the region's history, the Red River Floodway faced a major test.


During the 1997 flood, the Red River Floodway did a great job diverting water away from vulnerable areas and reducing flooding severity. Managing this significant flood event successfully proved the floodway system's value and reliability in protecting Winnipeg and its residents. Floodways performed well during this challenging period, mitigating the impact of severe flooding.

Warmer temperatures and rapid snowmelt caused the Red River to swell in 1997. Winnipeg and surrounding areas were at risk of severe flooding from the rising water.

The Red River Floodway was built to relieve the pressure and protect the city. Floodway control structures diverted a lot of river flow away from vulnerable areas. Water levels in Winnipeg were reduced and catastrophic flooding was prevented thanks to this strategic diversion.

The floodway handled an unprecedented amount of water during the 1997 flood. The city was spared the worst of the flooding after it managed the excess flow. Life and property were protected by the floodway.

Combined with the effectiveness of the floodway system, engineers, emergency responders, and volunteers helped minimize the impact of the 1997 flood on Winnipeg and the surrounding area. During extreme weather events, flood protection infrastructure and emergency response measures like this are crucial.

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Thank you to my research and writing assistants, ChatGPT and WordTune, as well as Wombo and others for the images.

GPT-4, OpenAI's large-scale language generation model (and others provided by Google and Meta), helped generate this text.  As soon as draft language is generated, the author reviews, edits, and revises it to their own liking and is responsible for the content.