As noted in the Report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development (fall 2010) “the federal and provincial governments share responsibility for fresh water management. The provinces have authority to legislate with respect to various aspects of water supply and use, pollution control, hydroelectric and non-nuclear power development, irrigation and recreation within their borders. The federal government has jurisdiction over aspects of fresh water regulation, including fisheries, navigation, boundary and trans-boundary waters shared with the United States and federal lands”.
The Report stated that “Section 44 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 requires the federal Minister of the Environment to establish, operate, and maintain a system for monitoring environmental quality. According to the Act, environment means the components of the earth and includes water, while the definition of environmental quality includes the health of ecosystems. Section 5 of the Canada Water Act empowers the Minister of the Environment to enter into intergovernmental arrangements to:
- establish and maintain an inventory of any waters where there is a significant national interest in the management of such water resources (such as Lake Winnipeg); and
- collect, process, and provide data on the quality, quantity, distribution, and use of those waters.”
The excessive nutrient (primarily phosphorus and nitrogen) loading of Lake Winnipeg from point and nonpoint pollution sources is of primary concern. The excessive nutrients are responsible for the growth of blue-green algae that produce harmful toxins, out competes beneficial algae, and can cause hypoxic or anoxic conditions (low or no dissolved oxygen levels) when large mats die and decompose. It has been estimated that half of the nutrient load originates from within Manitoba borders. Agriculture, industry, and municipal waste management practices all influence the nutrient loading of Lake Winnipeg.
The Lake Winnipeg Basin Initiative (LWBI), a four-year project, has been developed in response to the shared responsibilities of the Province of Manitoba and Federal Ministry of the Environment. The Initiative is currently in year three, and yet there has been no commitment by the federal government to fund it past the four-year period.
The primary focus of the LWBI is focused on six key science objectives to be achieved over the four-year period of time. In addition, the LWBI supports trans-boundary watershed governance and community stewardship efforts. The LWBI has received $17.7 million in funding. The majority of the funding, $12.1 million is being dedicated to the scientific objectives of the plan; portions of which encompass activities that should be carried out by Environment Canada. In addition, the boundary/trans-boundary (International Boundary Water Treaty Act) is an ongoing responsibility of Environment Canada and its funding of $1.9 million is being categorized as a cost of the LWBI.
The Community Stewardship program portion of the LWBI is being funded at $3.7 million over the four-year period.
The Liberal Party of Canada, while still in government, committed $120 million in federal funding to cleanup of Lake Winnipeg. The funding was to be allocated over a 10-year period of time.
The federal government must commit to:
- · Environment Canada carrying out Canada’s regulatory and fiduciary responsibilities as mandated to them under a variety of federal acts and regulations, and more specifically those prescribed in; the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the Canada Water Act, and the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act.
- · Funding the LWBI and other initiatives in a sufficient manner that would result in the remediation of Lake Winnipeg being completed by 2020.
It is recommended that the Liberal Party of Canada, in general, supports the continuation and extension of the Lake Winnipeg Basin Initiative, and more specifically increase funding as it pertains to the Community Stewardship fund for nonpoint source pollution projects. It is further recommended that the Liberal Party of Canada support municipal infrastructure (wastewater treatment) and other point source pollution projects that would assist in the remediation of Lake Winnipeg by 2020.
It is recommended that the Liberal Party of Canada supports increases to project and staff budgetary levels to ensure that Environment Canada has the capacity to carry out its regulatory and fiduciary responsibilities as it pertains to Lake Winnipeg and the Lake Winnipeg watershed and the goal of remediation of Lake Winnipeg by 2020.
What is point and nonpoint source pollution?
The term “point source” means any discernible, confined and discrete conveyance, including but not limited to any pipe, ditch, channel, tunnel, conduit, well, discrete fissure, container, rolling stock, concentrated animal feeding operation, or vessel or other floating craft, from which pollutants are or may be discharged. This term does not include agricultural storm water discharges and return flows from irrigated agriculture.
Nonpoint source pollution generally results from land runoff, precipitation, atmospheric deposition, drainage, seepage or hydrologic modification. Unlike pollution from industrial and sewage treatment plants, nonpoint source (NPS) pollution comes from many diffuse sources. NPS pollution is caused by rainfall or snowmelt moving over and through the ground. As the runoff moves, it picks up and carries away natural and human-made pollutants, finally depositing them into lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters and ground waters.
The federal government, in 2008, committed $30 million to clean up similar problems in Lake Simcoe, a lake with a surface area of 744 km2 vs. Lake Winnipeg with a surface area of 24,514 km2.
Liberal Party of Canada (Manitoba)
The National Policy and Electoral Platform (NPEP) Committee had initiated a review of the current policy process prior to the Spring 2011 federal elections. Part of this review was a pilot exercise for a new resolution format.
The Liberal Party of Canada (Manitoba) Association has piloted a new resolution format based on feedback from previous policy conventions. Your comments on this new format will be greatly appreciated and should be sent to email@example.com with the subject line “new resolution format”.