Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton (right) introduces Dr. Fisaha Unduche, the new director of the Hydrologic Forecasting and Co-ordination Branch.

Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton (right) introduces Dr. Fisaha Unduche, the new director of the Hydrologic Forecasting and Co-ordination Branch
February 24, 2014


Dr. Fisaha Unduche (fee-saw-HAW’ un-DOO’-chay), a flood modelling and mitigation engineer, is the new director of Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportations’ Hydrologic Forecasting and Co-ordination Branch, Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton announced today.
“Dr. Unduche is an experienced professional engineer who was selected based on his considerable experience with flooding in North America and Europe,” said Minister Ashton.  “The new director brings a great depth of knowledge of the province’s major watersheds and will lead the flood-forecasting team using his experience from around the world and the foremost hydrological science and technology.”
The appointment is in addition to new technology, new forecast software and more specialized team members the Manitoba government is adding to the Hydrologic Forecasting Centre to bolster
flood-forecasting capacity, he added.
Unduche will lead a team of 12 specialized full-time staff members who work at the forecast centre year-round including three senior forecasters and two new engineers who have been recently hired.  Other members of his team include computer specialists who assist with forecast system software and data technicians who provide on-the-ground data from river and lake watersheds across the province and outside data from Environment Canada and the U.S. National Weather Service.  During flood season, he will lead dozens more specialized staff who assist in the forecasting process, the minister said.
Unduche has 15 years experience in hydrological and flood issues in North America and Europe.  For the last five years he has worked as the senior water control systems planning engineer for the Manitoba government conducting hydro meteorological analysis, hydrologic modelling and watershed studies to assess and mitigate flooding.  He has a PhD in water resource engineering and has worked in various organizations as a water resources engineerand water resources professor dealing with various flood-forecasting and flood-management issues.
The minister also announced the forecasting centre is reviewing new flood-forecasting software and is in the process of:
  • acquiring and installing 100 new automated weather stations, some of which include soil moisture capability to increase the data available and to increase forecast reliability;
  • 22 new hydrometric stations for a total of 315 stations on Manitoba’s rivers and tributaries; and
  • two additional portable acoustic Doppler river flow metres for a total of six units.
All the weather and hydrometric stations transmit data by satellite in real time, the minister said. 
“With 100 years of combined experience and the unique shared experience of working during the largest, longest flood in Manitoba’s history, our team is one of the most experienced flood-forecasting units on the continent,” said Unduche.  “This province is the best place to work with leading-edge flood-fighting and flood-forecasting technology and it’s is an honour to serve with this team protecting Manitoba families and businesses from the threat of flooding.”
The minister said significant work continues to beundertaken towards implementing recommendations from the Independent Flood Review Task Force report including:
  • Continuing work on a major flood mitigation study for the Assiniboine River/Lake Manitoba basin which examines flood risks and potential mitigation strategies for the basin.  This study is examining many of the infrastructure recommendations made by the 2011 Flood Task Force and is scheduled to be completed later this year.
  • Continuing work on preliminary engineering work for an enhanced outlet for Lake Manitoba and in making the Lake St. Martin Emergency Channel permanent.
  • A review of the operating protocols for the Red River Floodway, the Portage Diversion and the Fairford River Control Structure, which commenced in late 2013 and is ongoing with completion scheduled for early 2015.  
  • The acquisition of highly accurate LIDAR topographic data which can be used for development planning to avoid flood-vulnerable areas and for flood mitigation and emergency response planning.  In 2014, additional LIDAR data will be acquired in the lower Assiniboine River and around Lake Manitoba.
The first 2014 spring flood outlook will be released later this week.
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