First-of-its-kind Program Empowers Everyone To Protect a Precious Natural Resource: Mackintosh

The Manitoba Government is tripling funding for the Lake Friendly campaign and funding eight other initiatives to help restore the health of Lake Winnipeg including new wetlands research and support for international co-operation on nutrient management, Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh announced today.

“Like many other Manitobans who have seen and enjoyed its vast beauty, I feel a strong connection to Lake Winnipeg and take the responsibility of restoring and maintaining its health very seriously,” said Mackintosh. “These programs and research projects will both reduce the amount of nutrients entering our waterways and help undo the pollution they have caused.”

The minister announced funding of more than $75,000 for the ongoing work of the Lake Friendly initiative. The program is run by a partnership of nine municipalities along the South Basin of Lake Winnipeg. The funding will support the Do What Matters project, the first program in the country that works to educate people on the impact everyday choices have on waterways.

“Through this program, local leaders are empowered to change practices and actions, and they can lead their communities and accelerate the change necessary to reduce the nutrient load to our waters,” said Rick Gamble, chair of the South Basin Mayors and Reeves.

Noting the Red River contributes about 70 per cent of the phosphorous that enters Lake Winnipeg, the minister also announced $100,000 for an ongoing grant to support the work of the Red River Basin Commission including its efforts to improve cross-border nutrient management. The Red River Basin Commission is a key partner in work being lead by the International Joint Commission, Manitoba, Minnesota, and North and South Dakota to develop a nutrient management strategy for the international Red River watershed.

“Our government’s new requirement for phosphorous removal in all the province’s medium and large waste-water treatment facilities is the most comprehensive in the country,” said Mackintosh. “However, the Lake Winnipeg watershed extends across many states and provinces. Working with leaders outside our borders on protecting our waterways will continue to be a priority.”

The Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation, a Crown corporation mandated with conserving and restoring fish and wildlife habitat, also received $130,000 to undertake an inventory of the province’s wetlands, which will assist in gauging progress on the protection of these wetlands. The minister announced earlier this year the corporation would be sharpening its focus on the protection of Lake Winnipeg.

The minister noted six additional projects will also receive funding including:

  • the Lake Winnipeg Research Consortium – $150,000 to assist in operation of the MV Namao to conduct monitoring and research on Lake Winnipeg;
  • the University of Manitoba’s Watershed Systems Research Centre – $50,000 to launch a water management pilot  project aimed at storing run-off water on agricultural land;
  • the Manitoba Environmental Industries Association – $15,000 to support a Clean Water Technology Leaders Initiative;
  • the University of Manitoba’s Watershed Systems Research Centre – $24,000 to develop assessment criteria to identify priority areas for wetland conservation and restoration;
  • researchers at the universities of Winnipeg and Manitoba – $25,000 to examine the timing and amounts of  phosphorus release from Manitoba soils during floods;
  • researchers at the universities of Winnipeg and Manitoba – $10,000 to help determine the human and ecological threat of algal toxins to water and fish in Lake Winnipeg.

The total funding for Lake Winnipeg restoration initiatives announced today is almost $600,000.

These investments supports TomorrowNow – Manitoba’s Green Plan, which includes commitments to protect Lake Winnipeg, wetlands and riparian areas with integrated watershed and surface-water management planning. More information on the plan is available at: www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/tomorrownowgreenplan/.

“There is no one solution to improving the health of Lake Winnipeg,” said Mackintosh. “The funding announced today is creating partnerships that will help us all reduce our environmental footprint, protect the environment and sustainably manage natural resources now and for future generations.”

Additional information on the Lake Friendly products campaign can be found on the website at www.lakefriendly.ca/.

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