The Manitoba Government has announced that the annual ice-cutting program will begin next week to reduce the risk of ice-jam flooding.

First introduced in 2006 to reduce the risk of spring flooding caused by ice jams on the lower Red River and several other rivers, this ice-jam mitigation program consists of cutting and breaking river ice.

"Our government is remaining vigilant by implementing the ice-jam mitigation program in order to protect Manitobans in the chance of flooding due to ice jamming," says Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Doyle Piwniuk. "As part of the mitigation strategy, the Manitoba government is committed to further advancing preparedness solutions including ice-cutting operations in the province."

Winnipeg Environmental Remediations Inc., a Manitoba company that provides comprehensive environmental services, general contracting, and civil earthworks, will operate the ice-cutting machines and equipment.

Since the program began, remote-controlled ice-cutting units and three Amphibex icebreakers have been used to carry out the proactive task. Approximately 28 kilometres of ice along the Red River from Selkirk to Netley Marsh will be cut, for an approximate width of 100 metres.

Usually, ice-cutting and breaking operations are done along the Icelandic River at Riverton and at the outlet of the Portage Diversion. As of right now, services at the Portage Division aren't planned but conditions at the Assiniboine River basin will continue to be monitored if anything should change. The Icelandic River has scheduled operations for mid to late March.

Notices have been posted in areas where ice-cutting machines will be working. For the safety of the public, river users are reminded to stay off the ice where notices are posted or where evidence of recent ice cutting is apparent. Ice fishers are also reminded to remove huts or other materials in areas covered by the ice-jam mitigation program.