03/25/2013 06:31 EDT | Updated 05/25/2013 05:12 EDT

NDP questions why no flood money in Saskatchewan budget with high spring runoff

REGINA - The Saskatchewan government says it's hard to predict natural disasters and that's why there's no money in the budget specifically allocated for flooding.

Government Relations Minister Jim Reiter says the province is concerned and preparing for flooding, but not having it as a line in the budget is normal.

"Potentially you could have something in any given year, but you're not sure," Reiter said Monday.

"It's just so completely unpredictable."

The NDP questioned in the legislature why no money has been earmarked for flooding, especially given the warnings.

The Water Security Agency is calling for above normal or well above normal spring runoff in almost all of the southern half of the province — and it could be worse for some areas. The agency's March forecast calls for very high runoff in areas between Indian Head and Moose Jaw, including Regina, and between Saskatoon and Prince Albert.

"What we know is that over the last three years they've spent over $105 million each year on average for flooding and there's a five-foot snowpack out there," said New Democrat Cathy Sproule.

"So, I don't know how you can't plan for that."

Sproule argues the government budgets for forest fires and should be able to do the same with flooding.

Reiter acknowledges the province budgets for forest fires, but says flooding is different.

"They tend to be more consistent because of lightning strikes," he said.

"There's sort of a base level of costs that you kind of know, whereas with things like flooding it's so incredibly erratic. Some years, many years, you have absolutely nothing and then potentially some years you have a little bit or you could have a huge amount of money."

Reiter says flood money will come through the province's rainy day account, the Growth and Financial Security Fund, if needed.