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The flood caused by the overflow of Manitoba's Red River in 1997, was one of Canada's greatest catastrophes. Between November 1996 and April 1997, this valley got almost twice the quantity of its average precipitation. The spring thaw at the end of April transformed the Red River into a "Red Sea" of 2 000-sq. km. This rise in the water level qualified as "the flood of the century", caused damages estimated in the millions of dollars and drove more than 28 000 people out of their homes.

Manitoba is the easternmost of the three Prairie Provinces. 15% of its 649 950-sq. km area is made up of aquatic environment. Being relatively flat, Manitoba is 150 to 300 metres over sea level. All of Manitoba's waters flow northward, into Hudson's bay.



Today, Manitoba's farmland forms a triangle whose sides follow the United States' border, the province of Saskatchewan's boundary and then diagonally crosses lake Winnipeg.

Before colonisation, a large part of southern Manitoba was a flooding plain and a vast marshland. In order to render this area favourable to agricultural activity, which today is one of Manitoba's main industries, a large network of drainage ditches criss-crossing the southern centre part of Manitoba had to be built.