We work with the Province of Manitoba to determine the impact of high river levels. We use extensive data modelling to identify properties that may be at risk of flooding.
If your property is at risk of flooding, we will deliver you a notice. If you receive this notice, you may have to build a sandbag dike. This dike will protect your home and others against river flooding.
A City employee will keep in close contact with you throughout the entire process.
Property owner responsibility
Who handles building the dike to protect my home?
Under City of Winnipeg Secondary Dike By-law No. 7600/2000, property owners are responsible for the construction, integrity, and removal of any sandbag dike on their individual property, to protect your property and others against river flooding.
The Secondary Dike By-law authorizes the City and its designated representatives (i.e. City employees or consulting staff retained by the City) to direct property owners to take action to prepare and build a sandbag dike, when there is a significant risk of flooding to their property or others.
As the property owner, what am I expected to do?
Some of the things you may have to do include:
- Provide us, or our designated representative(s), access to your property to mark the height and location of your dike
- Remove obstacles from where the dike may go on your property. This includes snow, ice, trees, buildings, furniture, etc.
- Accept the delivery of sandbags or other items from the City for building a temporary dike
- Build a temporary dike that meets our specifications for materials, construction, and size
- Link your dike to other temporary dikes on adjacent properties
- Check dikes for seepage and pump out water, as necessary
- Maintain, repair, or improve the temporary dike, as necessary
- Remove and dispose of sandbags, when directed to do so
If you, as the property owner, do not follow the By-law, the City can build, check on and/or remove a dike on your property. We will add the cost for this work to your property taxes.
How do you determine my property is at risk?
We determine risk to your property by using:
- Flood forecast information from the Province of Manitoba
- Land survey data
- River modeling tools
Although your property may be at risk, it doesn’t mean you will have to build a dike. The need for a dike depends on the river levels forecast and the vertical and horizontal position of your property. We determine this position through land surveying.
Does the City need to survey my property?
Yes, we do need to survey your property. We must re-confirm the position of your property and mark the location of a potential dike. There may be physical changes that could impact your secondary dike flood protection. This includes riverbank changes, placement of a new shed or other landscaping, or trees.
Our survey crews consist of City employees and/or consultants retained by the City. A survey crew will visit your property to mark the location and elevation of any possible diking. Do not move or remove the stakes used to mark your property.
Should I build a dike now that my property has been surveyed and staked?
No, please do not build a dike. A City employee will contact you when you need to start building your dike.
Whether you need a dike and when to build it depends on a few factors:
- Freeboard is the two extra feet of protection, beyond the forecasted peak river level. Your dike height has freeboard included. If your planned dike is within freeboard height, you may not have to build. Dike requirements depend on the amount of freeboard compared to the forecasted peak river level. This means that dike requirements can change depending on river levels, ice jams, and precipitation.
- Dikes are generally built “just in time” for a few reasons:
- As the river levels start to rise, we will determine whether you need a dike for your property. We base this on river levels, water flows, precipitation, and potential ice jams.
- There can’t be any snow where the dike is being built, otherwise it will compromise the integrity of the dike.
- It has to be warm enough to prevent the sandbags from freezing. Frozen sandbags will not form a protective seal against seepage in a dike.
- There are a few locations where we may decide to build a temporary clay dike instead of a sandbag dike. We will notify you if this is the case for your property.
The City has advised me to build a dike, now what?
We will attempt to provide you with four to five days notice to complete the dike. Please follow these steps to build your dike:
- Prepare the dike location – Be sure to remove any ice, snow, obstacles or debris from the dike area.
- Sandbag delivery - Contact the Dike Operations Centre (DOC) to arrange for sandbags and plastic sheeting. Please tell the DOC where they should place the materials on your property. The number of bags we deliver to you are based on the dimensions of the dike you need to build to protect your property. Delivery trucks carry about 500 sandbags per load.
- Build your dike – Learn how to build a dike using the information below. If requested, a City employee can provide guidance.
- Help with dike building - As a property owner, it is up to you to find, direct, and manage any volunteers you find to help you build your dike. Use your informal networks like family, friends and co-workers. You can also use social media like Facebook, X, Instagram, or TikTok to find volunteers. We have safety tips to protect you and your volunteers.
- Watching your dike - We expect you, as the property owner, to watch for leaks and pump out any water that may seep through your dike. Keep extra sandbags on hand to strengthen any weak spots in the dike. We recommend that you have a water pump on hand (available for sale at local hardware stores). If you notice any issues, contact the Dike Operations Centre.
Removing your dike – The City will notify you when you can take down your dike. Property owners must remove their dike and dispose of the sandbags. We recommend that you follow the sandbagging safety tips when removing your dike.
Do not throw out used sandbags. Instead, take them to the Brady Road 4R Winnipeg Depot. You can repurpose unused sandbags for landscaping.
Detailed dike building information can be found in the videos below.
1. Locating the dike
2. Sandbagging and safety
3. How to build the dike
Safety tips for sandbagging
There are many things you and your volunteers can do to stay safe when building a sandbag dike. Here are some tips:
- Check for medical conditions:
- Confirm that your volunteers are healthy enough to help. If they have any medical conditions that could make it dangerous for them, they should not build a dike.
- If they still wish to help, have them do a job that does not compromise their health or safety
- Ensure your volunteers are wearing appropriate clothing that can get dirty like:
- Slip-resistant and water-resistant footwear, like work boots or rubber boots
- Work gloves
- Full-length pants (no shorts)
- Long-sleeved shirt and jacket (dress for weather conditions)
- No jewelry (especially rings, watches or bracelets)
- Identify any safety hazards on your property or potential dangers to your volunteers. If you cannot alleviate these, warn your volunteers about them.
Recommend to your volunteers that they:
- Reduce sun exposure by wearing sunscreen, a hat and/or sunglasses
- Avoid using personal electronic devices or headphones. They can prevent them from hearing warnings or instructions
- Follow the directions of the site leader
- Take breaks and stay hydrated
- Wash their hands after working with the sandbags
- Stay alert to their surroundings. There is often large equipment, flooded holes in the ground, tripping hazards, etc. on site
Safe sandbag handling:
Sandbags weigh around 18 kg/40 lbs and moving them the wrong way may lead to pain or injury. Here are some tips to reduce the risk of injury when handling sandbags:
- Keep your back in a straight position and avoid bending more than 20 degrees in any direction
- Keep sandbags close to your body, carrying them between your knees and shoulders
- If working near moving water, work in pairs and wear a personal floatation device (PFD)