On November 8, the Manitoba government unveiled a new water management strategy – the first of its kind in nearly 20 years – to guide future actions, decisions and investments to protect the province’s water resources and ecosystems while sustainably growing the economy and communities.
Manitoba Chambers of Commerce President & CEO Chuck Davidson was pleased to sit on the oversight committee, which guided EMILI (Enterprise Machine Intelligence and Learning Initiative) in developing the Manitoba Water Management Strategy Recommendations Report.
“Our collective water needs are changing. Our growing communities, vibrant agriculture sector and expanding industries all depend on continued access to water,” said Premier Heather Stefanson. “At the same time, climate change and extreme weather, such as floods and droughts, have a significant impact on water availability and security. Manitoba’s new water management strategy balances environmental, social and economic needs, and creates opportunities to partner with industry, communities and all Manitobans to unlock future growth while ensuring the province remains a leader in sustainable water management.”
As Manitoba’s first whole-of-government water strategy since 2003, the new water management strategy provides a comprehensive framework to conserve and protect the environment, enhance resiliency, improve water quality and availability and foster economic development opportunities, the premier noted. The water management strategy will help support innovative solutions, best practices and new technologies to help address the shared water needs of Manitobans.
In support of the Water Management Strategy, a Water Action Plan will be developed during winter 2022/23 through further engagement with Indigenous Peoples, the public, and stakeholders. The Water Action Plan will be a focused guide to specific actions, initiatives, and investments directed at implementing the Water Management Strategy.
Focus areas within the water management strategy incorporate specific strategic objectives to guide and prioritize actions, initiatives and investments including:
- maximizing water resource potential through conservation and efficient water use;
- addressing water infrastructure challenges and opportunities;
- meeting water supply needs of current and future generations sustainably;
- protecting biodiversity and aquatic ecosystem health;
- building Manitoba’s preparedness and resilience to a variable and changing climate;
- protecting the quality and quantity of groundwater;
- protecting and improving surface water quality;
- improving co-ordination of water management and governance across watersheds, basins and aquifers;
- improving data information and knowledge available on water;
- advancing Indigenous inclusion in water management; and
- enhancing engagement and participation of Manitobans in water stewardship.
The Manitoba government’s new water management strategy builds on extensive input from Manitobans including the Expert Advisory Council, citizen engagement through EngageMB and stakeholder engagement administered through Enterprise Machine Intelligence and Learning Initiative (EMILI). All areas of input recognized water security as both a challenge and a competitive opportunity for communities and industry alike.
“Manitoba is fortunate to have excellent water resources at a time when water security and resilience are a growing factor for companies considering where to invest,” said Ray Bouchard, co-chair, Integrated Water Strategy Committee and board chair, EMILI. “In a changing climate, sustainable water management and smart water investments will be a strong part of Manitoba’s competitive advantage in agriculture, industry and future growth sectors.”