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New map will help source Lake Winnipeg algae

February 15, 2019 – The Winnipeg Free Press

OTTAWA — Conservation groups are asking Canadians to be part of a new effort to pinpoint the source of Lake Winnipeg’s algae blooms, and to make that data public.

“Each of us as individuals can be part of a larger, collective solution,” said Alexis Kanu, executive director of the Lake Winnipeg Foundation.

Kanu’s group has partnered with Toronto-based Gordon Foundation to assemble and publish data about phosphorus that flows into the lake north of Winnipeg.

“There really is a cultural shift taking place,” said Carolyn DuBois, program director of the Gordon Foundation. “There’s this opportunity for every data point that ever gets collected to have a much bigger impact.”

Lake Winnipeg is at the bottom of a basin spanning the Rockies to near the Great Lakes, meaning it receives phosphorus from wetlands, rivers and lakes across a huge swath of the continent; only about half comes from Manitoba. READ MORE.

Kanu’s group in Winnipeg will test samples collected from multiple provinces and possibly the U.S., and share an updated map of their results through the foundation’s website.

“It’s designed to help us target funding, and target action, in the areas where those resources will have the most impact,” said Kanu.

Manitoba wants to back out of $34M sewage-treatment promise, city says

February 1, 2019 – CBC News

Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative government wants to back out of a $34-million commitment to help Winnipeg pay for billions worth of sewage-treatment upgrades, and instead spend the money on other infrastructure projects, the city’s chief financial officer says.

The province denies Mike Ruta’s report and claims the city is attempting to move around money intended for upgrades at the North End Water Pollution Control Centre.

A report to city council’s finance committee, published Friday, says the province wants Winnipeg to redeploy $34.4 million it already gave to the city and use that cash to help pay for other projects it’s agreed to fund, including the Waverley underpass and transit projects.

Council finance chair Scott Gillingham (St. James) said he’s very concerned about the request considering Winnipeg is facing billions of dollars worth of sewage-treatment upgrades.

“To move any money off of wastewater treatment when we have these significant projects in the queue is very problematic,” Gillingham said Friday at city hall.

The potential redeployment of wastewater-treatment cash could further delay plans to conduct $1.4-billion worth of upgrades to the North End Water Pollution Control Centre, the largest of Winnipeg’s three wastewater treatment plants.

This is the largest component of a multibillion-dollar sewage-treatment upgrade ordered by the province in 2003 to reduce the quantity of nutrients that flow into the Red River and into Lake Winnipeg, where they help spawn algae blooms. READ MORE.

Canadian cities rethink removal of fluoride from tap water

Jan. 24, 2019 – CBC News

It shouldn’t be up to cities to decide to add fluoride to drinking water, but provincial officials, a Canadian mayor says.

Windsor, Ont., is bucking a national trend and looking at lifting its ban on adding fluoride to drinking water after seeing an increase in cavities among children.

Community water fluoridation is recommended by public health, medical and dental groups, including the Canadian and American Dental Associations, Canada’s Chief Dental Officer and the World Health Organization. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called its contribution to the decline in cavities one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.  

Fluoride is a mineral that binds to the enamel of teeth, strengthening them to prevent bacterial decay.

But ever since Canadian communities first introduced fluoridation in 1945, some cities have gritted their teeth at the contentious addition, and the debate continues. Some Windsor city council members initially argued that fluoride could be obtained cheaply from toothpaste and other critics have presented general fears over adding chemicals to water supplies. 

A 2018 review by the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health evaluated dozens of studies on the health effects associated with fluoridation. “The evidence in this review supports the protective role of community water fluoridation in reducing dental caries [cavities] in children and adults,” the authors concluded. READ MORE.

Lake Winnipeg fish species in ‘grave peril’ due to mismanagement, wildlife group says

Oct. 22, CBC News:

Some Lake Winnipeg fish species are on the brink of extinction due to “decades of mismanagement” of the commercial fishing industry, says the Manitoba Wildlife Federation.

“The issue of declining fish stocks in Lake Winnipeg is a direct result of commercial fishing policies that are not based on science,” said Brian Kotak, managing director of the wildlife federation.

“The harvest levels are unsustainable.”

Commercial fishers are allowed to catch a quota of any of the three main species — walleye, sauger and lake whitefish.

That system encourages intense fishing pressure on whichever species is most in demand, which has meant a heavier focus on walleye for many decades due to market prices, said the federation. Read more.