Happy New Year! We have been hard at work here at the foundation and wanted to share some of what we’ve been up to in the first month of 2020.
Federal policy and Lake Winnipeg
In December 2019, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shuffled his cabinet and issued new mandate letters to all federal ministers. These letters outline expectations and include specific policy objectives which each minister is expected to accomplish.
The health of fresh water and Lake Winnipeg are noted as priorities in several mandate letters. Specifically, themandate letter to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change includes directions to “develop further protections and take active steps” to clean up Lake Winnipeg, and oversee the creation of a new Canada Water Agency “to keep our water safe, clean and well-managed.”
We have sent letters to all federal ministers with mandates related to Lake Winnipeg, encouraging action to combat freshwater eutrophication and re-iterating the need for a collaborative approach to solutions. More information about our federal advocacy work is available in our federal policy news post.
Next steps for improvements to Winnipeg sewage treatment
A plan outlining next steps for both interim phosphorus reduction and full upgrades at Winnipeg’s North End Water Pollution Control Centre (NEWPCC) was released on Jan. 31.
Developed by a project steering committee which includes representatives from both the city and the province, the NEWPCC phosphorus reduction plan document addresses two separate objectives: 1) the implementation of interim phosphorus removal at the NEWPCC, and 2) a full upgrade of the plant. Consensus has been reached for work being conducted in 2020; work happening after that still needs to be discussed and reviewed.
We have identified two opportunities within this joint plan to reduce phosphorus at the NEWPCC, however, timelines remain a challenge. For example, an interim phosphorus-removal solution at the NEWPCC is not projected to be completed until 2024, while construction of a new biosolids facility – which will enable any interim phosphorus solution in place to operate at maximum effectiveness – is not projected to be completed until 2028.
LWF is a member of a project advisory committee which was formed to provide ongoing advice to the project steering committee. Going forward, our goals include:
identifying and championing opportunities to accelerate timelines
ensuring interim phosphorus removal achieves a meaningful reduction in phosphorus levels at the NEWPCC, and
making certain that interim phosphorus removal is completed within the timeframe directed by Winnipeg City Council in October 2019, i.e., once a solution is identified, it must be implemented within 14 months.
The NEWPCC is the single largest point source of algae-causing phosphorus to Lake Winnipeg. We know citizens expect action – and much work remains. We will continue to share ongoing developments to keep you updated and informed.
Fifteen years of freshwater stewardship
This year marks the Lake Winnipeg Foundation’s 15th anniversary!
In 2005, our founders met around a kitchen table, concerned with the changes they were observing on the lake and determined to make a difference. Today, we remain the only membership-based freshwater organization in Manitoba. We are proud to be part of a passionate community of lake-lovers, speaking up for a healthy Lake Winnipeg, now and for future generations.
In celebration of our milestone year, we will be rolling out several new initiatives over the course of 2020. Stay tuned!
Thank you for your interest in the health of Lake Winnipeg,
The LWF team
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Update: The deadline for public feedback on the IJC’s proposed nutrient loading targets and concentration objectives has been extended until March 28, 2020.
The International Joint Commission (IJC) works to prevent and resolve transboundary water disputes, investigating issues and recommending solutions to the governments of Canada and the United States. Guided by the Boundary Waters Treaty, which was signed in 1909, it was established in recognition that each country is affected by the other’s actions in lake and river systems along the border.
The IJC is currently soliciting public feedback...
The Lake Winnipeg Community-Based Monitoring Network (LWCBMN), coordinated by LWF, mobilizes citizens to collect water samples across Manitoba. With the help of watershed partners and the guidance of LWF science advisors, the network is identifying phosphorus hotspots – localized areas that contribute higher amounts of algae-causing phosphorus to local waterways than other areas.
In what has become an annual event, LWCBMN volunteers, partners and other supporters recently gathered at the University of Manitoba to connect with each other, learn about the results of the 2019 LWCBMN field season...