ALBERTA

South Saskatchewan River Flooding Expected; Alberta Rainfall Forces Evacuations

06/21/2013 09:59 EDT | Updated 06/21/2013 11:46 EDT

REGINA - People who live in a community downstream of where the North and South Saskatchewan Rivers meet have to leave their homes due to flooding.

The village of Cumberland House and the Cumberland House First Nation, in northeast Saskatchewan, were expecting to see a deluge of water as rainfall in Alberta heads east.

"Unfortunately what's happening in Alberta is going to make its way into Saskatchewan," Environment Minister Ken Cheveldayoff said late Friday afternoon.

"We are going to see inflows into Lake Diefenbaker larger than we've seen for the last 100 years."

The Saskatchewan Water Security Agency said based on the current rainfall in Alberta, more than 6,000 cubic metres per second are expected to arrive on the South Saskatchewan River into Lake Diefenbaker. Typical flows for this time of year is near 500 cubic metres per second.

The agency says it's going to have let more water out of the Lake Diefenbaker reservoir.

Over the weekend, flows on the South Saskatchewan River below Lake Diefenbaker will be increased from 800 cubic metres per second to 2,000 cubic metres per second.

"What that is going to do is raise the river by some two metres and certainly increase the velocity. So there is concern downstream from Lake Diefenbaker about flooding, certainly of agriculture areas," said Cheveldayoff.

"We're also concerned about the North Saskatchewan River. We received an advisory from Alberta and they have said that there's concern on the North Saskatchewan as well. And as we know the North and the South confluence takes place and then that river is the Saskatchewan River and it flows into Cumberland House.

"We're very concerned about Cumberland House."

There are about 1,000 people in the village Cumberland House and the Cumberland House First Nation.

Saskatchewan's emergency management commissioner, Duane McKay, said the plan is to have everyone out by Monday or Tuesday morning.

Cheveldayoff says it's possible other communities may need to be evacuated too. He said government officials are be contacting all communities along South Saskatchewan River.

"We do have the advantage of time and preparation and knowing what's coming, but I can't rule out anything," he said.

"This is an act of nature that Alberta has seen very quickly. We have a good idea of what's coming, but again the variable is rain and what's going to continue to happen. I've seen the reports out of Alberta that they're continuing to see a forecast of more precipitation so that's always a variable that none of us can determine."

The water is expected to arrive in Saskatchewan over the next few days.

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