WINNIPEG - Provincial officials say high water levels threatening parts of Winnipeg will start to drop over the next few hours.

Emergency Measures Minister Steve Ashton says the water will recede because the Assiniboine River isn't as swollen as once feared.

But Ashton adds the drop in water levels won't be sudden or dramatic.

He says the water, which is being diverted west of the city, is already at or near its crest.

The encouraging prediction comes after Winnipeg declared a state of emergency for low-lying parts of the city as a precaution.