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Election 2019: PCs promise a million for watershed management

Project would map waterways, aid Saskatchewan cross-border drainage issues

The provincial Progressive Conservatives have promised to spend $1 million on watershed mapping and management to alleviate flooding in western Manitoba if re-elected.

“Our additional investments and the steps we are announcing today will improve protection for downstream landowners and enhance watershed management on the prairies,” PC leader Brian Pallister said in a release Friday, just ahead of Tuesday’s provincial election.

The funds will go into aerial mapping of riverbeds through LiDAR technology to assist watershed planning in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, the release said.

“Our goal is to reduce the incidence and volume of excessive water flow from Saskatchewan that impacts Westman downstream,” said Pallister. “This step will add planning security for farmers, improve land productivity and reduce insurance costs.”

After catastrophic flooding in 2011, some blamed wetland drainage in Saskatchewan, “unrestricted and uncontrolled by the Saskatchewan government and paid lip service by Manitoba,” Ian Milliken wrote in an opinion piece in the Co-operator in July that year.

Milliken was, at the time, a livestock producer at Reston, Man. and a 30-year employee of the Manitoba government, in the wildlife field.

“I personally have seen satellite images of entire townships in Saskatchewan which drain directly into the Assiniboine. Here, 250,000 wetland acres have been drained in southwestern Manitoba. All of these wetland drainages enter the Assiniboine and Souris River watersheds,” he wrote.

The PC news release did not identify specific waterways or plans. It promised to work with the government of Saskatchewan to refer the issue of cross-border drainage to the Prairie Provinces Water Board, and to request recommendations for better co-operative management.

The provincial Liberals and NDP have also made promises related to water management.

NDP leader Wab Kinew promised “bold action” to help protect Lake Winnipeg and other waterways, in an Aug. 23 news release.

The release specifically pledged funding for the upgrade of the North End Water Pollution Control Centre in Winnipeg, which the release said treats 70 per cent of Winnipeg’s sewage, and allow it to remove more phosphorus and nitrogen from what it sends into the Red River.

In an Aug. 2 release, the Liberals pledged help to Winnipeg and municipalities to upgrade infrastructure, including the North End Water Pollution Control Centre, by issuing $500 million in “Save Lake Winnipeg Bonds.”

About the author

Reporter

Geralyn Wichers grew up on a hobby farm near Anola, Manitoba, where her family raised cattle, pigs and chickens. Geralyn graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in 2019 and was previously a reporter for The Carillon in Steinbach. Geralyn is also a published author of science fiction and fantasy novels.

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