February 21, 2005

Red River Commission receives $10K grant to promote transboundary water quality co-operation

The Manitoba government is giving the Red River Basin Commission (RRBC) a special $10,000 grant to promote co-operation on improving cross-border water quality. "It is our hope the Red River Basin Commission, with its international membership, will help governments on both sides of the border strive for co-operation on water-related matters," said Water Stewardship Minister Steve Ashton.

RRBC has strong municipal government representation on both sides of the border. Manitoba, Minnesota and North Dakota provincial and state governments are also members. Ashton noted that as an international organization, the RRBC is able to put forward a unified voice and vision for the basin. Flood protection, which was RRBC's earliest mandate, has grown to encompass involvement in transborder issues and initiatives relating to water quality, water supply, erosion, riparian restoration, better farm practices and fish and wildlife improvements.

Some of the funding will promote further work and consultation with Manitoba watershed authorities on the development and broad-based acceptance of the RRBC's Natural Resource Framework Plan (NRFP), a document outlining a vision for the future of the Red River Basin.

The grant will also help the Commission carry out an assessment of water protection incentives available in the U.S. and applicable within the Red River Basin. Advice will be provided on how such programs could be adapted for the Manitoba context and how they could be applied to support the policies and goals of the Manitoba government.

The work of the RRBC will complement Manitoba work to improve and preserve water quality in many major lakes and rivers including the Red River and Lake Winnipeg. The Manitoba Water Strategy clearly spells out the government's commitment on water quality in the province from source to tap, said Ashton.

"I am hoping North Dakota will assist us in our endeavour to protect our water. We look to include Devils Lake as an example of co-operation between our governments. Through cross border co-operation I am encouraged that we can work together to protect and preserve our most valuable resource," he added.

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