The Government of Canada announced it will invest $25.7 million in the Lake Winnipeg Basin Program, with a focus on reducing nutrient pollution, enhancing collaboration to protect freshwater quality and strengthen collaboration and engagement of Indigenous people.
The announcement was made on July 24, 2017, by Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna. This investment is part of the $70.5-million funding allocated for freshwater protection in the 2017 federal budget.
According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, Lake Winnipeg is the tenth largest freshwater lake in the world and the sixth largest in Canada. Its watershed covers almost a million square kilometres, encompassing four provinces and four U.S. states.
Lake Winnipeg is important to the Canadian economy, generating millions of dollars of revenue in the hydroelectricity, recreation, and commercial freshwater fishing industries. In addition, 20 Indigenous communities along the shores of Lake Winnipeg rely heavily on the lake and its surrounding lands for their livelihood, sustenance, and traditional use.
Water quality in Lake Winnipeg has deteriorated due to multiple sources of excessive nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen) that have increased the frequency and magnitude of algal blooms, including blue-green algae. In September 2006, an algal bloom covered almost the entire surface of Lake Winnipeg.
The Lake Winnipeg Basin Initiative (LWBI) was first launched in 2008 with $18 million in funding for a five-year period. The program was renewed in 2012 for a second five-year phase, with an additional $18 million in funding. Evaluation of phase II has been finalized and the report can be read on www.canada.ca.
Environment and Climate Change Canada said it will continue to conduct science-based initiatives to reduce the effects of excess nutrients in the lake and its basin. It will also increase engagement and collaboration with Indigenous peoples, the Government of Manitoba, and all other levels of government in Canada and the United States regarding shared water resources in the basin.
For more information on the Lake Winnipeg Basin, visit: www.ec.gc.ca