Winnipeg, Manitoba – The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment, the Honourable Gord Mackintosh, Minister of Conservation and Water Stewardship, and Mayor Rick Gamble, Chair of the South Basin Mayors and Reeves, announced today that the Government of Canada, the Province of Manitoba and the South Basin Mayors and Reeves have officially become the first signatories to the Lake Friendly Accord.
“As we approach World Water Day on March 22, I am very pleased to be among the first to sign the Province of Manitoba’s Lake Friendly Accord,” said Minister Aglukkaq. “We want to demonstrate the Government of Canada’s commitment to working with partners across Lake Winnipeg’s watershed to reduce nutrients and ensure that our precious freshwater resources are safeguarded for generations to come.”
“The Lake Friendly Accord engages those who can make a difference in the common goal of improving water quality by reducing excess phosphorous and nitrogen entering our waterways,” Minister Mackintosh said. “This agreement confirms our commitment to ensure the long-term health of our lakes and rivers, and should inspire others to sign up.”
The Manitoba government and the South Basin Mayors and Reeves first partnered in June 2013 to announce the Lake Friendly Accord and establish the Lake Friendly Stewards Alliance. The goal is to co-ordinate efforts and promote leadership to reduce phosphorus and nitrogen loading and protect water quality. Since then, about 75 other stakeholders from across Manitoba have joined the Lake Friendly Stewards Alliance. They are working collaboratively to:
- facilitate information sharing,
- enhance collaboration and co-ordination,
- improve reporting and accountability,
- increase efficiencies and technology transfer,
- enhance stewardship and economic opportunities, and
- celebrate nutrient reduction success stories.
“As partners in this initiative, the South Basin Mayors and Reeves are prepared to work with all municipalities across this vast watershed to develop and implement the ‘Lake Friendly – Do What Matters for Municipalities’ program,” said Mayor Rick Gamble, Chair of the South Basin Mayors and Reeves committee. “We want to be part of the solution to reverse the trend of increased nutrient loading to waterways.”
All stakeholders and residents of the Lake Winnipeg Basin, whether international, national, provincial, municipal, community or individuals need to work together and play a role in reducing phosphorus and nitrogen loading to all waterways including Lake Winnipeg. The accord provides a framework for all stakeholders to identify actions to reduce nutrient loading and improve water quality. Six working groups have been established under the alliance to develop specific actions that can be included as commitments under the accord, to develop strategies to engage signatories to the accord, and to document work being done to reduce nutrient loading.
Algal blooms are an important issue in lakes, rivers and streams across the Lake Winnipeg basin, which stretches across one million square kilometres through Canada and the United States including parts of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, North and South Dakota, Montana, Minnesota and Manitoba.