Manitoba rain a welcome sight, but more is needed to end drought emergency

WINNIPEG — Rain in Manitoba has been a welcome sight for the communities under a drought state of emergency, but more rain is needed to ease the drought conditions.

Greg Archibald, the CEO of the Pembina Valley Water Cooperative, said the rain on Friday boosted the flow on the Red River at Emerson from 245 cubic feet per second (cfs) up to 290 cfs, though it dipped down shortly after to 269 cfs.

“It has improved. Certainly, we’d have to take a lot more of this kind of weather – and it’s raining again today, so that’s good – in order to really help,” Archibald told CTV News.

He said it’s been a few weeks since the 14 communities in the Pembina Valley Water Cooperative declared a drought state of emergency and asked residents and businesses to cut back on water usage by 15 per cent.

While the recent rain has been welcomed, Archibald said more is needed to make any difference.

“If this is all the rain we get, no, it’s not going to change much. But we’ll see what happens,” Archibald said. “I’m optimistic. At the same time, we’re planning for things in case it continues for some period of time.”

He said the province needs a combination of rain and snow in order to bounce back from the drought conditions. The issue is the soil is so dry.

“When the rain falls on it, it just goes into the soil, it doesn’t really run off very much into the river,” he said.

Winkler Mayor Martin Harder told CTV News the rain was a refreshing break from a tough year. He said for farmers of late-seeded crops – things like potatoes, corn, or late beans – the rain was very beneficial.

“We’re looking for more,” he said.

Harder said while the rain is too late for the farmers who had early seeded crops, it is still helpful for the ground.

“The benefit for the producer is they also have to repair the soil for next spring,” he said. “When they go do their fall tillage, it’s extremely important for them to have a good soil surface to be able to work with.”

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