Actions to conserve Manitoba’s wetlands and watersheds

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Manitoba is a province of abundant water – home to over 100,000 lakes, and a myriad of rivers and wetlands. Even with this abundance, we must manage our waters carefully. A healthy watershed helps foster a healthy community, providing safe drinking water, allowing for food production and offering natural areas for people to enjoy.

Wastersheds - the geographic areas of land where all water drains to a common point.

Groups of smaller watersheds form large drainage basins, like the Assiniboine River Basin or the Red River Basin, for example.

To maintain the health and viability of our wetlands and watersheds our Made-in-Manitoba Plan proposes actions to:

Enhance management of our wetlands and watersheds

Watersheds are widely recognized as the most effective unit on which to plan, coordinate and manage land and water activities. Our Made-in-Manitoba Plan proposes the following actions to enhance the management of water and activities that influence water on a watershed basis:

  • Work with local organizations to enhance the watershed planning and management framework at both the local and regional levels to improve watershed resiliency.
  • Continue to inventory wetlands across the province.
  • Enhance the protection of seasonal, permanent and semi-permanent wetlands from drainage activities to achieve Manitoba’s commitment to a no net loss principle of water retention.

No Net Loss means that the overall water storage capacity within a watershed will not be diminished. It is an approach that allows for necessary drainage but also requires retention so the overall impact of human activities is neutral.

Manage agriculture and land use

The relationship between water and land is closely intertwined. The type of agricultural practices and community development decisions we take as Manitobans can enhance our watersheds or hasten their degradation. To manage agriculture and land use to strengthen our watersheds our Plan proposes:

  • Implementing a Made-in-Manitoba ecological goods and services program called Growing Outcomes for Watersheds (GROW), based on the Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS) model. Delivered in partnership with landowners, non-government organizations and federal and municipal governments GROW will aim to reduce flooding and improve water quality and nutrient management.
  • Working with agricultural landowners and communities to implement innovative approaches to water retention that can help manage the impacts of drought, mitigate downstream flooding and nutrient runoff and fulfill no-net-loss of water retention capacity goals.
Better prepare for floods and droughts

Climate change predictions for Manitoba indicate that the frequency and severity of floods and droughts are likely to increase in the near future. To better prepare for these impacts, our Made-in-Manitoba Plan proposes:

  • Working with communities and the agricultural sector to retain water on the landscape and manage it to enhance our resiliency to climate change.
  • Increasing LiDAR data collection for rural Manitoba to improve land and water management.
  • Improving our understanding of watershed and basin capacity and building preparedness through various methods to reduce the impacts of drought.
Protect the quality of our waters

Good quality water supports aquatic life, recreation, human consumption, agriculture, industry and many other uses. To ensure these expectations are met, our Plan proposes:

  • Continuing to work with communities to reduce nutrient loading through improved wastewater treatment, and innovative solutions.
  • Working with Keystone Agricultural Producers, conservation districts and other partners to implement best management practices that help reduce nutrient loading.
  • Considering the viability of water quality trading, a market-based approach that would work alongside water quality regulation to improve water quality.
  • Ensuring that watershed management planning includes measures to protect groundwater and recharge areas.
  • Working to maintain shorelines to preserve and protect personal property, public safety and the quality of our waters.
  • Working with communities to identify vulnerabilities for drinking water sources and develop strategies to address those vulnerabilities.