03/25/2015 04:41 EDT | Updated 05/25/2015 05:59 EDT

Manitoba government starts up river diversion to deal with potential ice jams

WINNIPEG - The Manitoba government is going to operate the Portage Diversion to ease some of the pressure on the lower Assiniboine River.

The province says the diversion will be used for a limited time and at low levels, in order to prevent problems related to potential ice jams downstream closer to Winnipeg.

The diversion is a canal that takes water out of the river and channels it to Lake Manitoba.

Many residents along the lake have criticized the use of the diversion in recent years and have accused the government of adding to shoreline flooding.

The government says it only needs to use a fraction of the canal's capacity in the coming days.