Protecting Our Water

Manitoba is certainly no stranger to water issues. A major flood seems to happen every few years, the health of Lake Winnipeg is threatened by decades of accumulated excess nutrients, and we need new infrastructure to ensure safe and reliable drinking water and sewer services are in place for all Manitobans.

The good news is, solutions exist for all of these challenges, and significant progress is being made on all fronts. We were even successful in our campaign with local scientists and other partners to save the world-renowned Experimental Lakes Area research facility from an attempt by the Conservative federal government to shut it down.

Lake Winnipeg

The excess nutrients flowing into Lake Winnipeg come from many different sources rather than one or two really big ones. The lake’s watershed covers nearly one million square kilometres, and more than half the nutrients in question originate from outside our province. Within Manitoba, agricultural activities and rural septic fields are significant sources of nutrients, but the City of Winnipeg’s slow progress on cleaning up its sewage problems actually makes it the single largest source of nutrients flowing into Lake Winnipeg.

What We’ve Done

Dozens of initiatives have already been launched to help sustain the health of Lake Winnipeg. The document “Manitoba – Lake Friendly in 50 Ways” on the Manitoba Conservation website provides details on many efforts now underway, but highlights include:

  • The largest wetland restoration project in North America is happening at Delta Marsh, to remove nutrients using the natural powers of prairie wetlands.

  • Multiple tough new laws have been passed, including the Save Lake Winnipeg Act and Canada’s first ban on phosphorus in lawn fertilizers and dishwashing detergents.

  • In January 2015, Minnesota became the latest in a growing list of national and international partners to sign the Lake Friendly Accord, designed to reduce nutrients across Lake Winnipeg’s entire watershed.

Next Steps

  • More than $1 billion is being leveraged to help Lake Winnipeg over the next five years.

  • The City of Winnipeg is to reduce the amount of phosphorus it sends into the lake by 65% through major wastewater system upgrades.

  • Our new Surface Water Management Strategy will have a “no net loss” of wetlands benefits approach.

  • We will ensure science plays a key role in all future actions to help improve all of Manitoba’s freshwater areas with funding for the recently saved Experimental Lakes Area research facility, two local water research centres and for the research vessel Namao.

Rob has been proud to serve as the Legislative Assistant to Conservation Minister Gord Mackintosh and his predecessors for the past five years.

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