For the first time in days, there is some good news regarding the flood situation in the southeast.
In the provincial government's daily conference call, the Sask. Watershed Authority informed the media that the combined outflows from the Rafferty and Boundary Dam reservoirs had decreased to 710 cubic metres per second, down from the record peak flow of 770 m3/s that was recorded on Tuesday.
Dale Hjertaas of the SWA said the southeast received less rain than was forecast for Tuesday. That fact, combined with declining inflows into the reservoirs, brought the outflows down slightly.
"We hope, if it doesn't rain again the next few days, that the peak flows are past," said Hjertaas, who noted the decrease in outflows happened naturally.
"Because of the reduced level in the reservoir the outflow has gone down a little. There is a bit of good news that the flows are starting to go down but they are still incredibly high."
Hjertaas said Boundary Dam is currently at its maximum level while Rafferty is currently sitting about one foot below its maximum flood level.
"Rafferty inflows are declining now and inflows to Boundary hit their peak (Tuesday) afternoon or evening," he said.
Hjertaas also addressed the continual rumours that the dams are in danger or are failing because of the incredible volume of water they are holding. He said the SWA has had staff on site at Rafferty 24 hours a day for the past week monitoring the dam and various sensors.
"The engineers say it is performing satisfactorily and it is doing what they hoped it would do in this situation," said Hjertaas, who also noted rumours that water had begun going over the dam were also false.
"The maximum allowable flood level is about 1.5 metres below the top of the dam. It got a little above the maximum allowable level but not high enough to start splashing over the dam with waves which is a very good thing because you don't want that happening."
Duane McKay, the commissioner of emergency management and fire safety, also provided an update on the work his office is doing throughout the province and in the southeast.
He noted there are 26 communities under local state of emergency in the province, including some here in the area.
Speaking about Estevan specifically, he said employees from the Office of the Fire Commissioner have secured the Willow Park Greens mobile home park to ensure there are no thefts from the evacuated properties.
Along with the City of Estevan, they are continuing to watch the water treatment plant as well as a lift station in the valley that has been threatened by the flood. A number of roads in the area remain closed and they have brought a number of boats and a helicopter to the area for emergency use.
There are also sandbagging operations going on in Benson and the surrounding RM.
Roche Percee remains an area of concern as a significant portion of the village remains under water. McKay also noted the village administration is operating out of Bienfait and can be contacted there.
Other notes from the conference call:
Traffic on Highway 39 near Roche Percee is down to one lane as water is going over the bridge located in the valley. Many other roads in the area remain closed including Highway 47 south and Highway 18 to Torquay.
A total of 663 people have registered with Emergency Social Services in Estevan. That includes people from Willow Park Greens, Roche Percee and others who have been evacuated in the area.
SaskPower has 83 customers disconnected in the Estevan area and 55 in Roche Percee.
They are continuing to draw down their coal reserves at Boundary as road closures have choked off their supply. Wet coal is causing headaches and has forced them to take the Shand Power Station offline for a few hours today. It's expected the plant will be back online shortly.
The situation at Boundary is not acute as they have reserves on site, but it could become a bigger issue if their supply remains cut off. SaskPower is currently importing more than 100 megawatts from North Dakota and Manitoba with Boundary not operating at its capacity.
SaskEnergy had no system issues to report but did have to bring in a dive team from the Regina Police Service Tuesday to turn off a regulator station outside of Estevan that was completely submerged.
In their most recent update the City of Estevan is reporting:
The berm in Willow Park Greens Trailer Park was successfully reinforced yesterday and the pumps are no longer required. The Estevan Police Service has confirmed that there have not been any reports of looting or vandalism at the trailer park.
Residents are allowed in for personal belongings for short periods of time during the day. Residents can be assured that security will remain on scene around the clock.
The evacuation centre has registered an additional 27 families to bring the total to 261 families between the City of Estevan and Village of Roche Percee. The Souris Valley Aquatic and Leisure Centre continues to host 40 individuals overnight and feed numerous evacuees during the day. The Leisure Centre will remain closed until the evacuees can return home. For information regarding evacuees contact 634-1876.
At this time the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority has informed the City of Estevan that the combined water release from the Boundary Dam and Rafferty Dam will remain at 710 cubic meters per second. Saskatchewan Watershed Authority and SaskPower have indicated that the structural integrity of both dams is intact.
As a result of the high water levels, traffic routes are limited. Please call the Highway Hotline for current information before travelling or 634-1855. At this time Highway 47 North remains open with one lane restriction near Benson. Highway 39 East remains open with one lane restriction at the bridge. Highway closures that remain in effect include Highway 18 and Highway 47 South. Rafferty Dam Road is open to local traffic only.
Estevan Police Service and Fire Rescue Service require residents to stay away from affected areas including the road closures. Anyone caught disobeying barricades or road closures will be charged.
Additionally, residents should be aware that the flood waters are extremely dangerous. Floating debris and other water hazards above and beneath the surface are dangerous for all watercraft. There are energized power lines hanging very close to the surface of the water at this time. Water rescues carry an extremely high risk for Fire and Rescue Services.
The Water Treatment Plant continues to be fully operational and the water continues to be safe for consumption. The City of Estevan Landfill has limited access. The South access road is closed at this time and the North access road recommended for 4 x 4 vehicles only.
For further information and updates contact 306 634-1855 or www.estevan.ca. For recent photographs see www.estevanmercury.ca.
It was also noted that people from who have been evacuated from Benson are asked to report to the centre at the Souris Valley Aquatic and Lesiure Centre.
The Estevan Recovery Service Centre for flood and water damage victims will be set up at St. Joseph's Hospital. Numerous provincial and local agencies will be in attendance to offer assistance regarding the local flooding situation. It will be available from June 23 until June 29 from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. in the East Auditorium. Please use the South East Entrance (long term care entrance).