Manitoba is home to some of the most beautiful wilderness in Canada, as well as the 10th largest freshwater lake in the world: Lake Winnipeg. Unfortunately, with a watershed spanning a million square kilometers, unwanted materials are turning up in the lake.

“What we’re seeing now is the flushing of more nutrients than would occur naturally,” relates Alexis Knispel Kanu, Executive Director of the Lake Winnipeg Foundation (LWF). For the lake-lovers who started the LWF in 2005, this is cause for concern. “We need to address nutrients in all our sewage treatment systems, whether they’re big cities, small towns or individual houses.”

"None of these changes will happen overnight, but with the increased public and political will to generate real change at higher levels of organization..."

The health plan

In the last year the LWF has developed the Lake Winnipeg Health Plan, centered on four priorities: “First, we want to ensure we don’t make the problem any worse, by protecting the existing wetlands throughout Manitoba,” which act as natural filters.

“Secondly, we need to protect the Boreal forest,” because the runoff from there is significantly cleaner than elsewhere. “Third, we need to identify the point sources of pollution,” and finally, implement “a strategic and targeted monitoring program,” to learn more more about non-point sources.

Opportunity

None of these changes will happen overnight, but with the increased “public and political will to generate real change at higher levels of organization,” Alexis is confident they will happen.  It is a challenge, but the LWF also sees something else.

“There is an opportunity here for Manitoba to tackle this head-on and emerge as a leader.” With the support of the community behind them, the LWF is ready to get their hands dirty and make the lake clean.