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Monitoring our Waterways

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Knowledge is power. In order to take effective action on phosphorus reduction, we must fully understand how, when and from where phosphorus is entering our waterways. The information we gather needs to be responsive to the unique and dynamic changes in Manitoba’s weather and landscape so that we can have a truly accurate picture of what’s happening in our rivers – and how it affects our lakes.

Currently, water-quality sampling of large rivers throughout Manitoba is done by federal and provincial agencies on a routine schedule, as well as by research institutions, universities and conservation districts. Monitoring of smaller rivers occurs less frequently. Though a wealth of expertise exists, limited resources and demands on already taxed capacity means researchers may miss out on opportunities to study what happens in our waterways as a result of events such as spring freshet (the peak runoff caused by melt) or floods. Coordination presents another challenge; estimates of overall nutrient exports are less reliable when scientific information is not shared across sectors and/or with the public in a routine or timely fashion. Without comprehensive reporting that’s publically available and as up-to-date as possible, we can’t know if existing phosphorus-reduction initiatives are working.

Good or bad, successes or challenges, it’s important to confront what’s happening in our rivers and across our watershed. Action 4 of the Lake Winnipeg Health Plan, Monitoring our Waterways, recognizes the need for a cohesive, collaborative approach to ongoing research. In addition to routine monitoring of our waterways, sampling should also be done on an event-based schedule that can account for factors such as spring melts and/or floods. Multiple agencies need to work collaboratively to collect, analyze and share data, and reporting needs to be coordinated, reliable and accessible. LWF will help coordinate the creation of these processes, and work with other organizations to develop responsive and appropriate monitoring tools.

CURRENT WORK: COMMUNITY-BASED MONITORING

Resources

  • Co-created by LWF and released in fall 2016, this report highlights the challenges and opportunities of CBM efforts across Canada, and inlcudes a case study on LWF's recent CBM efforts.
LWF publishes a newsletter, The Watershed Observer, twice a year. Our most recent edition includes information on our emerging community-based monitoring network, details about groundbreaking microplastics research made possible through our grants program, and helpful tips on how you can speak up for water by reaching out to decision makers.