Amphibex fleet to hit the ice near Selkirk, Manitoba.

‘Once we start these units up today, we won’t shut them off until the end of March,’ says Darrell Kupchik

Ice breaking on the Red River is about to get underway in Selkirk Manitoba.

At the base of Netley Creek Monday morning, crews pieced together three Amphibex machines, which by the end of March, should leave a trail of broken ice 28 kilometres long.

“The mouth of Netley Creek is a really important area on the Red River. If ice jams up in this location, it backs into Petersfield,” said Darrell Kupchik, executive director of North Red waterway maintenance.

Ice breaking is starting around the same time as usual, he said, though noting that “the window of opportunity is very small in ice-breaking.”

In years past, crews who started a bit earlier saw parts of the Red re-freeze, Kupchik cited.

Crews pieced together three Amphibex machines on Monday near Selkirk Man. (Travis Golby/CBC)

The three Amphibex machines, which cost roughly $1.2 million each, were originally designed for clearing out the beds of bodies of water — an act called dredging. They were modified, however, to bear the brunt of ice breaking, Kupchik said.

“Once we start these units up today, we won’t shut them off until the end of March,” Kupchik said.

Once the work is done near Selkirk, the Amphibex machines will move about 120 kilometres north of Winnipeg to the Icelandic River near Riverton, Man., then Fisher River Cree Nation and Brokenhead Ojibway Nation.

The machines will be on stand-by in case ice jams occur in the spring, but once the flood risk is gone, they will undergo maintenance, Kupchik said.

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