May 24, 2004

Manitoba earmarks $1M for water quality improvement actions

The Manitoba government will earmark nore than $1 million for new water initiatives, Water Stewardship Minister Steve Ashton said recently. Lake Winnipeg will receive special focus, with funds committed to restore the lake's water quality to 1970 levels.

"Lake Winnipeg is a major tourist attraction for Manitobans and visitors, and is producing record commercial fish catches," Ashton said, adding that "both short- and long-term actions will be required to improve and maintain the health of the lake."

New and continuing initiatives include:

-- a dedicated Web site on the health of Lake Winnipeg, including incidents affecting water quality;

-- an invitation from the Lake Winnipeg Stewardship Board (LWSB) to stakeholders including cottage owners, municipalities, community groups, farm groups and First Nations to look at immediate steps they can take to protect Lake Winnipeg;

-- enhanced support for the work of the LWSB;

-- focused research on priority water quality issues, in concert with the Lake Winnipeg Research Consortium;

-- targeted testing and scientific research, building on last summer's water quality testing at Lake Winnipeg beaches;

-- a clean beaches program to educate and encourage the public and municipalities to help keep beaches clean; and

-- a new initiative providing information to communities and lakeside residents on what individuals can do to help protect the lake.

Over and above the new funding, the province is also undertaking other substantial water protection projects. Water and wastewater systems will be constructed and upgraded for the rural municipalities of Gimli, Brokenhead and St. Clements, along with Norway House and Pine Dock; these will be funded through the Canada-Manitoba Infrastructure Program and the Manitoba Water Stewardship Board. A Manitoba Erosion Technical Review Team will address shoreline erosion issues and implement demonstration projects. And Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives is planning to double its soil survey capability.

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