IISD says $1.1 mln for Lake Winnipeg will support integrated management approach

WINNIPEG—June 25, 2009—Funding of $1.1 million to help clean up the Lake Winnipeg watershed will help develop an integrated water resource management approach, which is critical to dealing with the problem, according to the International Institute for Sustainable Development.

Canada Treasury Board President Vic Toews announced the release of funding by Environment Canada for 14 projects under the Lake Winnipeg Basin Initiatives involving two projects managed by IISD’s new Water Innovation Centre (WIC), headed up by Henry David (Hank) Venema.

Lake Winnipeg is fed by a vast water basin covering 960,000 square kilometres extending over four provinces and four U.S. states. The problems facing the lake are the result of excessive phosphorus and nitrogen from agricultural, municipal and natural sources ending up in the lake. More than half of these nutrients originate outside Manitoba’s borders.

“The problems with Lake Winnipeg are compelling and complex,” Venema said, adding that the transboundary issues alone are an important dynamic in reducing pollution in Manitoba’s largest lake.

The Environment Canada funding will accelerate two key WIC projects—one concerning the restoration of Netley-Libau Marsh. The other, in partnership with the Red River Basin Commission, concerns multi-purpose land and water investments that produce nutrient and flood reduction benefits.

“The proximity of the Water Innovation Centre to Lake Winnipeg in essence offers a dynamic and living laboratory where we can test new innovative water management strategies and policies that offer valuable lessons for similar circumstances in many other parts of the world,” Venema said.

About WIC and IISD

The Water Innovation Centre will develop, communicate, and help implement an integrated Lake Winnipeg Basin strategy based on natural capital and integrated water resources management principles. The Centre will respect the mandates of other water-related agencies, take into account the importance of regional initiatives and provide technical, logistical, and policy support to federal and provincial agencies, community groups and municipalities.

Since 2004, IISD has conducted seminal analyses on Prairie watershed issues, identifying the Lake Winnipeg watershed as ecologically vulnerable. Our work in ecosystem service and community management assessments, as well as our pioneering efforts in ecological engineering approaches to Lake Winnipeg Stewardship—paved the way for the Water Innovation Centre.

For more information, please contact Henry David (Hank) Venema Phone: +1-(204)-958-7706 or IISD media and communication officer, Nona Pelletier Phone: +1-(204)-958-7740, Cell: +1-(204)-962-1303.

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