The province announced measures Tuesday aimed at lowering lake levels following extensive flooding of areas along Lake Manitoba in recent months. 

The provincial government said work will start immediately on an emergency channel out of Lake St. Martin. The cost for the work is pegged at $100 million. 

Officials also said Lake Manitoba outflows through the Fairford River water control structure will be unrestricted through the winter.

Provided construction can be completed on the channel by this fall, levels on both Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin could be lowered before spring runoff, reducing the chance of flooding in 2012, said the province.

"This is an extremely ambitious timeline. The work will proceed under very difficult conditions in a remote location that is essentially underwater bog right now," said Premier Greg Selinger.

The five-mile emergency channel will be constructed from Lake St. Martin to Big Buffalo Lake and is slated to be 300 feet wide and up to 25 feet deep.

Two engineering firms recommended the measures, the province. A range of options were examined, with the emergency channel "assessed as the best option to provide emergency relief from high lake levels, and protect homes and communities along lakes Manitoba and St. Martin," said the province.

By spring, it's expected the channel could lower water levels between two to three feet. If water levels along Lake Manitoba remain high, however, the province will consider building a second channel around the Fairford dam.  

People in the area have been facing high water levels for months, with some people forced out of residences and structures damaged by flooding.

Cottagers and homeowners said that after a long, hard summer battling flooding, people deserve a permanent solution. 

"If they start draining the lake, it makes me feel good - the water needs to go down," said Al Gerbrandt, a cottager. 

Preliminary work has already started on the channel. 

- with a report from CTV's Jillian Taylor