Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

NDP still dilly-dallies about lake

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The health of Lake Winnipeg has been under attack for 30 years from blue-green algae, but the alarm bells started ringing in 1999 when the algae blooms spread to the lake's north basin. A few year later, scientists warned Lake Winnipeg was dying.

That's a lot of time to develop a comprehensive rescue plan, but the NDP, which has been in power since the alarm was raised, has been content to nibble at the problem while uttering grand platitudes.

Incredibly, the province has only just recognized that any solution must involve the active intervention of three other provinces and three American states. That's because Manitoba is only responsible for 50 per cent of the nutrient overload that is slowly strangling Lake Winnipeg, which an international environmental organization recently dubbed "Threatened Lake of the Year."

The province should have developed a high-level working relationship with the other governments in 1999, while simultaneously boosting its own efforts to demonstrate moral leadership and expertise.

The province has funded sewage-treatment upgrades for Winnipeg and other municipalities, but they, too, are just a small part of the overall problem in Manitoba. More scientific research should have been commissioned long ago, and water-conservative districts should have been developed and expanded. Netley Marsh, the lake's greatest filter of water pollution, needs to be rehabilitated.

The NDP wants our American and Canadian friends to be more lake-friendly, but they are unlikely to do so unless Manitoba shows them the way.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien, Shannon Sampert, and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 10, 2013 A8

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