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Feds put up funds for Lake Winnipeg

Water quality and wetlands are key targets for the promised spending

The federal government will be spending $3.8 million over the next four years to fund groups working to protect Lake Winnipeg.

Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna announced the funding for 23 new projects under the Lake Winnipeg Basin Program Aug. 2 in Gimli.

The Lake Winnipeg Basin Program will take action to reduce excessive nutrients — such as phosphorus — from entering the lake, and it will also enhance collaboration throughout the basin and support the engagement of local First Nations on freshwater issues, a government release read in part.

The same release stressed a focus on mitigating excess phosphorus, citing it as the main cause of toxic and nuisance algae that negatively impacts water quality, which is a problem that could be worsened by warming waters due to climate change.

The Lake Winnipeg Founda­tion will receive $260,000, over four years, for a project that engages citizen scientists to collect, analyze, and share multi-year phosphorus data to support targeted action.

The Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation will receive $400,000, over two years, for wetland conservation and restoration in the Lake Winnipeg Basin. This project will include restoring 60 hectares of drained wetlands and protecting 660 hectares of intact wetlands.

DUC and MHHC will use the funding announced today to support programs that restore and protect wetlands, the groups said in a release.

They noted that will benefit the recreation, tourism and fishing industries by helping to reduce algae in the lake, and support Manitoba farmers who are paid incentives to partner with DUC on wetland projects.

“This funding will allow two experienced conservation groups to work together for the benefit of many Manitobans,” said Mark Francis, DUC’s head of conservation programs in Manitoba, in the release.

During the next two years, DUC and the Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation (MHHC) will share $400,000 through the Lake Winnipeg Basin Program.

That will restore an additional 100 acres of wetland, which will both provide more wildlife habitat and filter nutrients from run-off water, preventing algae blooms.

Farmers stand to benefit because DUC and MHHC will use the funding to pay incentives to private landowners who choose to protect and restore wetlands with long-term agreements, their release noted.

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