NDP bill would protect Manitoba's lakes and wetlands, limit flood damage

NDP Environment Critic Rob Altemeyer today introduced a bill in the Manitoba Legislature that would help protect the province’s lakes and wetlands and help mitigate the effects of flooding.

“We lose wetlands the size of 4 ½ football fields every day in this province. For every wetland that disappears, we lose another chance to coral flood water and prevent polluting nutrients from being washed into our rivers and lakes,” Altemeyer said. “To mark World Water Day, and because it’s not too late to reverse the damage, we’re introducing a bill that would help save wetlands. It would also help limit the amount of phosphorous and nitrogen nutrients flowing into our waterways.”

An earlier version of this legislation was tabled prior to the 2016 provincial election and enjoyed support from all parties and stakeholders, Altemeyer noted. However, that bill didn’t make it through the legislative process prior to the election and was never enacted.

“Flood forecasters say there’s a greater chance of flooding this year, so it’s more important than ever that we act to mitigate the damage that can be done to our province,” Altemeyer said. “I urge the Pallister government to support this bill for the good of all Manitobans.”

Altemeyer’s bill would amend five existing Acts and would:

  • Ensure that for any loss of sensitive wetland there would be restoration of wetland that would have an equal environmental benefit;
  • Set targets for nutrient levels and reporting requirements for the government;
  • Require the province to work with other levels of government and other jurisdictions to develop co-ordinated water management strategies for river basins that extend outside Manitoba; and
  • Recast conservation districts as watershed districts with the ability to work co-operatively over an entire watershed.

“We want to keep more water on the land and nutrients out of our lakes and rivers,” Altemeyer said. “If we can stop the destruction of wetlands, we can do a better job of doing just that. This is the first step toward restoring lost wetlands, which help mitigate flood damage, keep nutrients out of our waterways and therefore limit the development of toxic algae blooms in our lakes.”