03/18/2014 11:55 EDT | Updated 05/18/2014 05:59 EDT

Governments promise more money in Manitoba for flood protection

WINNIPEG - The Manitoba and federal governments promised $42 million Tuesday to beef up flood-protection measures.

Most of the money comes from savings in the recently completed expansion of the Red River Floodway — the massive ditch that diverts water around Winnipeg — which ended up $38 million under budget at $627 million.

"This $38 million is savings will allow other communities, families and business to be protected all around Manitoba," Premier Greg Selinger said.

Some $27 million is to go to Brandon, where hundreds of homes were evacuated in the spring of 2011. Most of the money will be used for work already underway, such as a key dike along 18th street, mayor Shari Decter Hirst said.

The remaining $15 million is to be used to convert temporary protection measures into permanent ones in seven communities, including St. Clements, Souris, and Melita.

Manitoba has worked to beef up its complex system of ditches, dikes and outlets since the so-called flood of the century in 1997.

The province sees some flooding almost every year as melt water arrives from as far away as the Rockies. Most often, farmland and rural highways are affected. In bad years, some towns have to close off roads to the outside world until the water recedes.

The outlook this year is fairly positive, although government officials warn much depends on the weather in April and May.