March 22, 2011

Minister Makes Commitment To Mark World Water Day

Water Stewardship Minister Christine Melnick today marked the United Nations’  World Water Day by announcing $615,000 in investments to help enhance the quality of water for Manitoba families.

“Our plan to make life better for all Manitobans starts with ensuring that we protect our water,” said Melnick.  “I congratulate all our partners for working together to ensure water is protected for this generation and for future generations.”

Melnick said the investments will support the work already underway throughout Manitoba and the Lake Winnipeg watershed including:

$150,000 for the Lake Winnipeg Research Consortium  to help support operation of the Namao, a boat that conducts research on Lake Winnipeg.

$75,000 for the Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation to invest in riverbank easements to provide wildlife habitat and trap nutrients that might otherwise flow into rivers.

$150,000 to assist the International Institute for Sustainable Development with an innovative wetland enhancement pilot project which harvests cattails from Netley-Libau Marsh to reduce nutrient flows into Lake Winnipeg.  These cattails are then used to create bio-energy.

$140,000 for the Prairie Provinces Water Board to support ongoing work managing rivers and streams that flow east from Alberta and Saskatchewan into Manitoba.

$100,000 for the Red River Basin Commission to continue its work with residents, governments and organizations across the international basin to help improve land and water management, and water protection.

“Manitoba’s water, groundwater, rivers and lakes are part of our natural heritage and are vital to our future,” Melnick said.  “These investments are part of our common sense plan to work with everyone on issues such as clean water that matter to Manitoba families.”

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Manitoba has a history of taking proactive and protective actions to safeguard water resources including:

Creation of Canada’s first department of water stewardship in 2003.

Adopting the first-of-its-kind Water Protection Act in 2004, which has since been emulated by other jurisdictions in Canada.

Banning of bulk water exports in 2000 through the Water Resources Conservation Act.

Creating innovative programs such as WaterSmart in 2008, which  have helped conserve valuable water resources with savings of over 270 million litres of water annually.  In partnership with Manitoba Hydro, the government is helping to retrofit faucets and showerheads in primary residences.  A program was also launched to help low-income families retrofit their homes with water conserving fixtures.

Improving drinking water quality through the establishment of the Office of Drinking Water, with a tenfold increase in staff dedicated to drinking water protection .

Manitoba has passed the Drinking Water Safety Act which establishes new standards for drinking water quality.

Over $100 million has been invested to upgrade water infrastructure in more than 100 Manitoba communities.  In 2008, an additional $150 million was committed for rural and northern water and waste-water infrastructure upgrades.

Undertaking numerous initiatives in order to reduce the flow of nutrients into waterways:

A first-in-Canada restriction on the phosphorus content in dish detergent including successful lobbying for a similar nationwide approach at the federal level.

The identification of new water protection areas with limits restricting the application of nitrogen and phosphorus, incorporation of nutrient limits into new municipal sewage treatment licences, establishment of a hog moratorium in ecologically sensitive areas and implementation of an expanded ban on winter spreading.

The investment of millions of dollars in scientific research in and around Lake Winnipeg including support for the Lake Winnipeg Research Consortium research ship the Namao.

The continuing restoration of critical wetlands such as the Delta and Netley-Libau marshes, which experts say will help to reduce nutrient loading in Lake Winnipeg by six per cent.

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