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Interim plan proposed to protect Lake Winnipeg from ‘constant dripping tap’ of nutrients from treatment plant

March 22, 2019 – CBC News

Water scientists and activists are urging the City of Winnipeg to adopt a new treatment technique at its largest water treatment centre as a stopgap measure to protect Lake Winnipeg, while the city works toward $1.8 billion in upgrades promised down the line.

Officials from the International Institute for Sustainable Development and the Lake Winnipeg Foundation said the projected timeline for upgrades to the North End Water Pollution Control Centre will be too slow to reduce the flow of nutrients into the lake from Winnipeg.

“This is a constant dripping tap,” said Dimple Roy, director of water management at the institute.

“We’re releasing 600 kilograms of phosphorus every single day out of the North End treatment plant. And given current timelines of the full upgrade, we’re going to be seeing these kinds of loads for the next 10 more years.”

The treatment centre, is Winnipeg’s largest. It’s also the largest single source of phosphorus and nitrogen flowing into Lake Winnipeg, the institute says. READ MORE.

Not enough border officials able to spot invasive zebra mussels: audit

April 2, 2019 – Winnipeg Free Press

OTTAWA — Canada’s main line of defence against an invasive species plaguing Lake Winnipeg has little actual muscle, according to a federal audit released Tuesday.

Boats at risk of transmitting zebra mussels have crossed into Manitoba without making waves, because not enough border officials know how to spot those containing invasive species, nor how to respond when they do.

“I was kind of surprised at the breadth of the lack of information and knowledge that the government has, in order to manage this file,” environment commissioner Julie Gelfand said in an interview.

Since 2013, zebra mussels have been found along the southern basin of Lake Winnipeg.

In infant form, the mussels are undetectable to the human eye, and they feed off particles in the water other species rely on, while releasing nitrogen and phosphorus.

In adult form, the mussels can be the shape of a fingernail, and form clusters consisting of tens of thousands, clogging drinking-water infrastructure and even hydroelectric dams.

Ottawa and Manitoba have both made it a top priority to contain the spread. Yet officials with the Canada Border Services Agency at Emerson told auditors “they sometimes sent uncleaned boats back to American car washes before allowing the boats to re-enter Canada. But car washes are not an effective way to decontaminate boats, since the water temperatures are often not hot enough to kill the mussel.” READ MORE.

‘The water passes and we’re moving on’ — but there are lessons in 5 of Manitoba’s worst floods, expert says

March 23, 2019 – CBC News

Flood forecasters predict a potentially devastating deluge for parts of the province this spring — but even if it’s as bad as expected, it will be far from the first time a Manitoba flood has left a trail of destruction in its wake.

Late last month, provincial forecasters released the first detailed flood outlook of 2019, and warned of widespread flooding along the Red River — at least as bad as 2011.

That was before heavy snow and rain hit south of the border, also bringing significant moisture in the form of snow to part of the basin in southern and eastern Manitoba, CBC meteorologist John Sauder said.

Since then, officials here have warned Manitoba flood levels could be even worse than 2009 — the second-highest since the Red River Floodway was constructed, surpassed only by the “Flood of the Century” in 1997. READ MORE.

Open data site to provide updates on Lake Winnipeg’s health

March 20, 2019 – The Winnipeg Free Press

An online tool to help understand the health of Lake Winnipeg has been launched.

Lake Winnipeg DataStream (www.lakewinnipegdatastream.ca) will be an open hub for data collected by a host of agencies.

“A lot of organizations put out their own databases but it’s very difficult to find that data,” said Carolyn Dubois, water program director at the Gordon Foundation.

“What DataStream does is pull all that data together (for public viewing). It’s making water data as accessible as possible.”

One of those agencies is the Lake Winnipeg Foundation. It is in charge of the Lake Winnipeg Community-Based Monitoring Network, which mobilizes people to collect water samples across Manitoba. The network is helping to identify phosphorus hotspots that contribute high amounts of algae-causing phosphorus to waterways. That data will now be available publicly on the DataStream web site. READ MORE.