August 22, 2017
The Manitoba government has launched public consultations on three new environmental initiatives, which will improve water management and modernize watershed planning, Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires and Agriculture Minister Ralph Eichler announced today.
“Our government believes there are tremendous ecological opportunities to improve the future of our province through effective watershed management strategies,” said Squires. “With the development of these watershed-based planning initiatives, our province will be better positioned to address the challenges of climate change, reduce nutrient loading in our lakes and waterways, protect against drainage and flooding, and improve water quality in partnership with landowners, stakeholders and other levels of government.”
Manitobans will be asked for input on a made-in-Manitoba program called GRowing Outcomes in Watersheds (GROW), a new partnership with farmers to create ecological goods and services on the agricultural landscape. It is based on the alternative land-use services model, originally developed in the province by Keystone Agricultural Producers and Delta Waterfowl Foundation. It would encourage beneficial management practices like water retention, grassland restoration, wetland restoration or improved riparian area management by incenting farmers to create new environmental improvements in these areas.
“Manitoba farmers have always been excellent stewards of the land and have a unique opportunity to provide further environmental benefits to the province,” said Eichler. “We look forward to feedback on the GROW proposal from our farmers, as well as from conservation groups and other interested Manitobans, as they help us develop a made-in-Manitoba approach that delivers sustainable and targeted results for the province.”
The Manitoba government is also seeking input on watershed-based drainage and water resource management. It proposes a new sustainable and balanced approach to drainage and water control works licensing to reduce red tape, protect important wetlands and watershed retention, and protect water quality through enhanced drainage inspection and enforcement.
“The conservation districts of Manitoba welcome the implementation of GROW,” said Arnold Coutts, chair, Manitoba Conservation Districts Association. “This will greatly enhance our ability to further deliver watershed based programs for improved water management in Manitoba. Having this articulated support at the provincial level also puts into place the tools to better enhance environmental programming’s success at a greater scale which will also further advance Manitoba’s climate-change efforts.”
“Improved water management regulations and ecological goods and services programming are the top priorities for farmers right now,” said Dan Mazier, president, Keystone Agricultural Producers. “As the province’s largest group of land managers, farmers know that we have a unique opportunity to partner with government to provide ecological benefits to Manitobans. At the same time, I appreciate that the government is taking an integrated approach by consulting with Manitobans on the critical regulatory reforms that are needed to help farmers mange water and reduce the economic and environmental losses associated with flooding and drought.”
The ministers noted the third consultation document focuses on modernizing Manitoba’s conservation districts program, setting out a roadmap to strengthen watershed planning, better support partnerships with Indigenous communities and deliver measurable outcomes in the health and resiliency of watersheds.