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Restoration Techniques

Lessening Nutrient Loading

Though Lake Winnipeg faces many burdens, hope of revival is not yet lost. Working in
our favor is the fact that once improvements are made to slow or eradicate the effects of alien
invasive species and eutrophication, it does not take a significant amount of time for the lake
itself to recover. With this said, it will not be as simple as making one large change to
rejuvenate Lake Winnipeg. In fact, it will require numerous small alterations spanning across
the entire watershed to be beneficial.

Fig. 1: Lake Winnipeg Watershed (State of Lake Winnipeg)

Hydrology Resolutions
Netley-Libau marsh is critical to Lake Winnipegs health. The massive marsh spanning
258 km located at the mouth of the Red River once provided essential filtration of nutrient rich
runoff. Its ability to slow and capture this runoff was credited to the ample vegetation that
encompassed the marsh. Since the 1920s we have seen a 50% loss of the marsh due to the
creation of the Netley-Libau hydroelectric dam in 1920. The dam has caused such harm
because it has caused the watersheds water levels to stabilize artificially high. This
deterioration has led Lake Winnipeg from a phosphorus retention amounts of 20% up to a
devastating 75%. The increased retention, of course, has been a major factor in the explosion of
algal bloom totals.
In order to restore the marsh we must to some extent restore its natural water cycle. In
doing so, the marsh will once again be able to go through the processes of drought and
saturation in which it needs for vegetation to thrive. To achieve this it is proposed that
Manitoba Hydro institute drawdowns of the Netley-Libau dam every 5-7 years to re-establish
natural water cycles and therefore restoring natural diversity. This solution allows for Lake
Winnipeg to flourish once again, while also continuing support of hydroelectric power

Fig. 2: (Archives of Manitoba)

Fig. 3: (Dr. G. Goldsboroug)

Agricultural Solutions
Agriculture being another major source of nutrient loading is also in great need of
resolution. From this cause the equivalent of 544,000 bags of fertilizer are being deposited into
Lake Winnipeg from south west Manitoba alone (CBC, 2010). Part of this problem is attributed
to the removal of nearly all prairie potholes from farmers fields. These relatively small
marshes would sequester the large quantities of nutrients used to fertilize their land and isolate
it from water systems for hundreds to thousands of years. To make matters worse, farmers
now create trenches on their land that literally funnel their nutrient runoff to ditches and
streams which lead into the water system.
To end this negligent destruction of Lake Winnipeg there are a few simple yet
immensely effective contributions that farmers can make. Possibly the most common sense
idea would be to simply reintroduce the prairie potholes. With only a small sacrifice to land
area these bogs can once again isolate damaging phosphorus rich fertilizer runoff. These
strategically placed marshes connected with micro dams have been known to show up to a 90%
decline in the flow rate of farmer field discharge (CBC, 2010). With this not only is the runoff
considerably decreased but the vegetation surrounding the small holding ponds also traps a lot
of the phosphorus. The significance of that is harvesting that vegetation and composting it to
use again as fertilizer is incredibly resourceful and beneficial to the entire process.
In correspondence to that, there is now also a new method for fertilizing land which has
it being directly injected a few inches into the ground. This process allows for the crops to take
in the fertilizer while also significantly reducing effluent as moving phosphorus at that depth
takes substantial amounts of water. If all of these discussed techniques were to be
implemented it is undeniable that the benefits for Lake Winnipeg would be astronomical.

Managing Invasive Species

When it comes to handling AIS entering Lake Winnipeg there are a handful of
improvements that can be made, though instilling responsibility in the individual is crucial. The
reason for this is because AIS typically make their way into the Lake Winnipeg Watershed by
relocation of personal and commercial watercraft and equipment from one body of water to
A few techniques in which individuals can actively help in eradicating the situation
involves caring for all watercraft, equipment, and gear before and after transportation. To do
so it is essential to drain and rinse watercraft and gear with hot high pressure water (50C) and
also leaving it to dry in the hot sun for 5 days, or 18 in spring and fall. In addition, it is
important for the public to be aware that contents of live bait buckets be disposed of in trash
bins and away from open water. To help ensure that these measures are followed through
certain measures and intervention will be required. Firstly, it would be effective to hold
educational events or advertise about AIS risks and prevention techniques in appropriate
guides, magazines, and boat launch locations. Setting up wash stations and equipment
inspections at launches and border crossings would also have a positive impact. Possibly most
important of all however is communication. Since the Lake Winnipeg Watershed is shared
between four provinces and four states, establishing common regulations and strict
enforcement across borders is key to reduce spread of AIS.

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society Manitoba Chapter (CPAWS), The Lake Winnipeg
Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, & The Nature Conservancy. (2014, May 13). A Living Landscape Lake Winnipeg and Manitoba's boreal forest define our province. Winnipeg Free Press.
Retrieved from
Campell, Marlo. The Lake Winnipeg Health Plan. Lake Winnipeg Foundation, October 7, 2014.
Environment Canada & Manitoba Water Stewardship. (2011). State of Lake Winnipeg: 1999 to
2007. [Report] Gatineau: Environment Canada.
Kristofferson, Al et al. About the Lake. Lake Winnipeg Research Consortium Inc. Lake
Winnipeg Research, October 7, 2014.
Pelc, Julie et al. What can I do about invasive species? Invasive Species Council of Manitoba.
CMS Made Simple, October 9, 2014.
Schindler, D. W et al. (2012). The rapid eutrophication of Lake Winnipeg: Greening under global
change. Journal of Great Lakes Research , Volume 8, Supplement 3 , 6-13.
Underwood, C. (Producer). (2010). Save My Lake [Canada]. Canada: CBC Learning