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Province gives Lake Winnipeg programs $600,000

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Projects aimed at cleaning up Lake Winnipeg got a $600,000 shot in the arm today from the Selinger government.

Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh said the goal of each of the programs is to reduce the amount of algae-producing nutrients entering the lake.

Lake Friendly will get funding of more than $75,000 for its ongoing public awareness campaign telling Manitobans on how they can reduce the amount of phosphorus and other contaminants from entering the lake’s watershed. Tips include reducing the amount of vegetable waste disposed through a home kitchen garburator, installing a holding tank at the cottage and cleaning up after pets.

The program is run by a partnership of nine municipalities along the South Basin of Lake Winnipeg.

Mackintosh also announced $100,000 for an ongoing grant to support the Red River Basin Commission and its efforts to improve cross-border nutrient management. The Red River contributes about 70 per cent of the phosphorous that enters Lake Winnipeg. The commission is behind efforts by the International Joint Commission, Manitoba, Minnesota, and North and South Dakota to develop a nutrient management strategy for the Red River.

The commission’s annual conference starts Tuesday in Grand Forks, N.D.

A recent study showed if no action is taken to reduce phosphorus, more toxic algae blooms could form and create "dead zones" on the lake. Thicker algae sucks oxygen out of the water and threatens the fishery.

Additional groups getting funding:

  • $130,000 to the Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation: The Crown corporation conserves and restores fish and wildlife habitat and will use the money to also conduct an inventory of the province's wetlands, which will assist in gauging progress on the protection of these wetlands.
  • $150,000 to the Lake Winnipeg Research Consortium to assist in operation of the MV Namao research ship.
  • $50,000 to the University of Manitoba's Watershed Systems Research Centre to launch a water retention pilot project aimed at storing run-off water on agricultural land.
  • $15,000 the Manitoba Environmental Industries Association to support its Clean Water Technology Leaders Initiative.
  • $24,000 the University of Manitoba's Watershed Systems Research Centre to develop criteria to identify wetland conservation and restoration projects.
  • $25,000 for researchers at the universities of Winnipeg and Manitoba to examine the timing and amounts of phosphorus release from Manitoba soils during floods.
  • $10,000 for researchers at the universities of Winnipeg and Manitoba to help determine the human and ecological threat of algal toxins to water and fish in Lake Winnipeg.

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