Vital for Life: Water Supply in the Prairies. The demand for water around the world is increasing due to population growth and the adoption of water-intensive lifestyles like our own. Rising population worldwide, unsustainable land use and development, and the associated climate warming is affecting both the distribution and frequency of precipitation and eventually alter the seasonal flow of rivers.
Manitobans often see their landscape as defined by surface water: our great prairie lakes, the water-bodies that dot the Canadian Shield, and the network of rivers that cut across the province’s geography and history. But when soil and bedrock lies an important and often neglected resource: groundwater. Groundwater is the source of drinking water for most Manitobans outside the Winnipeg Urban Area, and is key part of the hydrological system, interacting with lakes, rivers, wetlands, soil, and vegetation.
The Vitality of Lake Winnipeg is in Jeopardy. A central feature of our landscape, this body of water is an obvious point from which to begin a discussion of water issues in the province. Fondly dubbed our “prairie ocean”, the lake is home to a stunning variety of aquatic life, a source of water to the creatures that populate its shores, and is a major flyway for migrating birds.
Canada has over 127 million hectares of wetlands, one quarter of the world’s total. Twenty-two million (17%) hectares of these are in Manitoba. Wetlands such as marshes, bogs, swamps and fens are essential for a number of environmental services including: flood and drought prevention, storing carbon to prevent global climate change, water purification, and helping to replace groundwater. Wetlands are also important as habitat for countless species.