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Progress Report on the Lake Winnipeg Basin Initiative 2012–13 and 2013–14

Appendix 3

Lake Winnipeg Basin Stewardship Fund Projects in Round 6 (2013–2014)

Project Name: Manitoba Wetland Restoration Project

Project Recipient: Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation

Environment Canada Contribution: $720,000

Status: Project to be completed in March 2017

Description: The project will restore a total of 648 hectares (1600 acres) of drained wetlands throughout Manitoba over a 4-year period. Restorations will occur by infilling agricultural and other drainage ditches with earthen dams or other small structures. Over a 10-year period, these wetland restorations will prevent at least 64.8 tonnes of phosphorus and as much as 324 tonnes of nitrogen from potentially entering Lake Winnipeg. Mid-term securement and protection of the restored wetlands will occur through the completion of 10-year landowner contracts and the acquisition of “Licenses to Construct Small Works” through Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship. Landowners would also be offered the option of providing permanent protection under registered conservation easements. Conservation easements will provide perpetual protection of the restoration works, regardless of the landowner.

 

Project Name: Pelly’s Lake Watershed Management Area

Project Recipient: La Salle-Redboine Conservation District

Environment Canada Contribution: $132,600

Status: Project to be completed in March 2015

Description: Pelly’s Lake, located near Holland, Manitoba, is a historical wetland area, consisting of two wetland basins covering 630 acres. The project will construct and operate two water retention structures, with a total storage of 1200 acre-feet, protect over 700 acres of wetland and riparian habitat under Conservation Agreements with six landowners, including the first Conservation Agreement with a Hutterite colony in Manitoba. A partnership between the conservation district, the colony and the International Institute for Sustainable Development will lead to a cattail harvesting operation that will see the colony harvest cattails from the reservoir basins and convert the biomass into biofuel for heating the colony buildings. An interpretive park will be established on a site that overlooks the wetland basins and will contain educational information about the project and recognition of all project partners and donors.

 

Project Name: Cattail and Novel Biomass: Nutrient Capture and Reclamation Turning a Waste/Pollution Stream into an Input for a Sustainable Manitoba Bio-economy

Project Recipient: International Institute for Sustainable Development

Environment Canada Contribution: $180,000

Status: Project to be completed in March 2016

Description: The project will demonstrate and assess the effectiveness of harvesting wetland (i.e., cattail) biomass from nutrient-rich areas upstream in the Lake Winnipeg watershed to directly reduce nutrient loading to Lake Winnipeg. Sites will include areas around Winnipeg and within Manitoba’s Interlake region. Areas that store flood water and capture nutrients from point and non-point sources will be selected: storm water ditches, upstream surface water retention areas and marginal agricultural land. This project will demonstrate and quantify: 1) phosphorus capture, removal and re-use by harvesting cattail biomass; 2) flood damage reduction from surface water retention basins; 3) greenhouse gas emissions comparing harvested versus unharvested sites; 4) heat energy produced, coal displaced and carbon dioxide offsets created from use of harvested cattail in solid fuel burners; 5) production of cattail biochar for soil amendment, bioenergy and fertilizer; and 6) the commercial large-scale environmental and economic opportunity of harvesting nutrient-rich biomass for bioenergy and bioproducts.

 

Project Name: Establishment of Pilot Sites for Innovative Surface Water and Nutrient Management Initiatives on Farms

Project Recipient: Manitoba Conservation Districts Association

Environment Canada Contribution: $401,074

Status: Project to be completed in March 2017

Description: The project will take place at a number of locations across the Lake Winnipeg basin within Manitoba. Traditional water management schemes in Manitoba involve flooding land temporarily, and then releasing it later when the drainage network can handle the volume. However, on some soil types, this results in an increase in the loss of phosphorus from flooded soils. The project team will investigate the potential options for using the stored water for agriculture so that neither water nor nutrients are released downstream. A range of options will be tested through pilots on farms representing a range of ecozones, hydrology, habitat and agricultural uses across the Lake Winnipeg basin. The project will cover a number of priority areas in the Lake Winnipeg basin including the management of peak flows, reducing nutrient loads from agriculture and developing drought resilience on farms. The measures that will be examined include structures and management systems in the existing drainage network to store water, the use of constructed wetlands and retention ponds to store water, and the options for using the water for agriculture, such as for forage harvesting, bale grazing or irrigation of crops.

 

Project Name: Wetland Restoration (Two-year Program) in the Assiniboine River Watershed

Project Recipient: Assiniboine Watershed Stewardship Association Inc.

Environment Canada Contribution: $230,000

Status: Project to be completed in March 2015

Description: The project proponent, in partnership with the Water Security Agency and Ducks Unlimited Canada, will restore up to 150 wetlands within southeast Saskatchewan. Using a reverse auction, interested landowners will be offered up to two times Fair Market Value per acre of restored wetland in return for a 10-year “no-breaching” agreement. Restoring 150 wetlands (average approximately one acre in area and 1000 m3 in volume) has the potential to improve water quality by storing between 607 and 1215 kg of phosphorus per year, reducing agricultural nutrient loading into Lake Winnipeg. This storage volume also has the potential to reduce the effects of flooding for downstream residents.

 

Project Name: Pipestone Phosphorus Reduction Program: Implementation and Measuring Efficacy of Beneficial Management Practices

Project Recipient: Lower Souris Watershed Committee Inc.

Environment Canada Contribution: $120,720

Status: Project to be completed in March 2016

Description: The project is located within the uplands of the Pipestone Creek, which flows into the Souris River once in Manitoba. The project will reduce nutrient loading at the source by restoring 25 wetlands (45 hectares) that have previously been lost to agricultural drainage and converting 700 acres of cropland to perennial forage. Following implementation, a workshop and field day will be hosted to promote the benefits to agricultural producers of the two beneficial management practices (BMPs): wetland restoration and forage conversion. Additionally, site tours where these BMPs have been implemented will be held to demonstrate the benefits. Water quality (nutrients, particulates and volume) and quantity will be monitored in runoff from spring snowmelt and summer storm events.

 

Project Name: Niverville Lagoon System: The Investigation of Alternative Approaches for Bio-remediation

Project Recipient: Town of Niverville

Environment Canada Contribution: $149,056

Status: Project to be completed in March 2016

Description: The Town of Niverville will investigate the feasibility of remediating biosolids (sludge) in decommissioned waste water lagoons through in situ treatment using phyto- and bio-remediation methods, under both aerobic (native grasslands) and anaerobic (wetland plants) processes. In 2008, Niverville opened a new sewage lagoon north of the town; the old lagoon (32 acres), located within the town boundaries, must be decommissioned as a requirement of the town’s environmental licence for its new lagoon. Only two options presently exist for decommissioning lagoons in Manitoba: removing the sludge and spreading it on agricultural land or disposing of it in a local landfill. Following removal, the old lagoon must also be filled in to grade. Landfilling is no longer an option, and in the case of Niverville it would require approximately 5 120 acres of agricultural land to accommodate the spreading of their sludge material. A positive outcome from this project will have broad application for other municipal governments across Manitoba and Canada. The Town of Niverville estimates the project will realize a nutrient loading reduction of 21 345 kg of phosphorus per year.

 

Project Name: Successful Initiation of Wetland Restoration Landowner Incentive Program

Project Recipient: Upper Souris Watershed Association Inc.

Environment Canada Contribution: $80,000

Status: Project completed

Description: From April 2013–March 2014, the project will demonstrate wetland restoration as a beneficial management practice (BMP) and will highlight the benefits of having wetland restoration as a BMP eligible for stewardship incentives. Key project elements include establishing 10 wetland restoration demonstration sites (installing ditch plugs to restore at least two basins per site, secured for 10 years); re-vegetating 30-metre-wide buffer zones around each restored wetland to perennial cover; polling agriculture producers who have been exposed to the wetland demonstration sites to learn their motivations for draining wetlands, issues they may have with wetland restoration and what impediments or obstacles exist that prevent them from restoring wetlands on their farms; and undertaking communication activities including signage on site, highway billboards, field tours for both youth and adults, newsletter articles, media releases, and 15 radio ads about interesting wetland and watershed facts. Sites will be on arable land and will be highly visible to the public.

 

Project Name: Earthen Dam for Water Storage and Erosion Control

Project Recipient: Swan Lake Watershed Conservation District

Environment Canada Contribution: $66,356

Status: Project to be completed in March 2015

Description: The Conservation District will work closely with landowners to construct new earthen dams in two locations within the watershed, situated between the Saskatchewan border and Lake Manitoba. Downstream of site locations has experienced municipal infrastructure damage, sheet erosion and temporary inundation of continuously cropped agricultural lands. Outlet discharge capacity and timing of release will consider downstream infrastructure and conditions. It is estimated that the surface water from 800 hectares of continuously cropped agricultural land will be retained and allowed to release nutrients slowly as a result of the project. The Conservation District will complete surface water testing both upstream at high flow rates and at discharge to provide comparison of initial nutrient versus nutrient released with variable storage time to optimize nutrient reduction without compromising agricultural timelines. Upstream storage area will be surveyed for capacity and also for monitoring sediment deposition annually. The storage area will become a temporary riverine wetland, and the lowland and transitional vegetation will store sediment, organic matter, organic nitrogen and phosphorus while inundated.

 

Project Name: Assiniboine Basin Municipal Point Source Assessment and Reduction Initiative

Project Recipient: Upper Assiniboine River Conservation District

Environment Canada Contribution: $34,798

Status: Project to be completed in March 2015

Description: The Conservation District will assess 32 waste water sites within southwest Manitoba to measure and quantify the nutrient contributions via chemical analysis and facility capacity, assess the feasibility of alternate uses (e.g., land availability, soils, irrigation demand/cost), and understand the local capacity and willingness to engage in this initiative. Secondly, the Conservation District will demonstrate, via two pilot projects within the rural municipalities of Miniota and Hamiota, the ability to achieve alternative uses that provide reduced nutrient loading to the basin, with the co-benefit of creating positive economic growth within the region. This will be achieved by creating two waste water irrigation sites where trees and shrubs will be grown for harvest and uses including heat energy, landscaping and increased wildlife habitat. Solar technology and irrigation equipment will be used to supply two nursery sites with waste water. The proponent estimates a phosphorus loading reduction of 2880 kg per year.

 

Project Name: Whitemud Watershed Surface Water Storage Program

Project Recipient: Whitemud Watershed Conservation District

Environment Canada Contribution: $39,899

Status: Project to be completed in March 2015

Description: The Conservation District will construct three temporary water storage projects in the headwaters of the Whitemud River. Each project will consist of a backflood area (reservoir), earth dam with rock and/or geotextile for erosion control, and control structures consisting of an open-top culvert as well as a release culvert with screw-gate valve. The projects are designed to fill up during runoff events to Full Supply Level (FSL), and any excess water continues to run through the spillway until the reservoir returns to FSL. During late season (prior to freeze-up), the release valve is opened, allowing the reservoir to drain. The valve is then closed, and the project is ready to fill again the next year. Each project will be protected through caveats placed on the land titles for both the structures and backflood areas. The Conservation District will be responsible for operation of the projects, as well as annual inspections and maintenance. When completed, the projects are estimated to hold approximately 120 acre-feet of water. The wetland area that will be enhanced and/or created by these projects is estimated at approximately 100 acres. Each project will receive signage noting the project partners, in both official languages.

 

Project Name: Lake Friendly Practices and Actions – Do What Matters

Project Recipient: South Basin Mayors and Reeves Inc.

Environment Canada Contribution: $210,000

Status: Project to be completed in March 2016

Description: The project will build public awareness and create long-term changes in behaviour by showcasing practices and actions that reduce nutrients from entering Lake Winnipeg. Through the engagement of all Winnipeg capital region and south basin municipalities, the project will reach 70% of Manitoba’s population. Building on the first phase of the Lake Friendly initiative, the project will expand on the initial practices outlined and create resources to monitor and track nutrient reductions occurring as a result of implementation of Lake Friendly Practices and Actions in two partnering municipalities and two partnering schools. Beneficial management practices will be introduced and monitored in the partnering sites. Using the results from the partnering sites, a “Lake Friendly Marking System” will be developed to allow various sectors and supply chain components to be recognized as Lake Friendly.

 

Project Name: Lake of the Woods Discovery Centre Model Shoreline

Project Recipient: Lake of the Woods Development Commission

Environment Canada Contribution: $29,636

Status: Project completed

Description: The model shoreline will be built along a 256 m shoreline at the Lake of the Woods Discovery Centre in Kenora, Ontario. The project is an interactive and interpretive environmental education project driven by community partners and grassroots support. The project will include three shoreline demonstration sites: natural shoreline with native plantings, minimal landscaping and fish/aquatic habitat protection; soft shoreline protection to reduce erosion with considerable native plantings and environmentally friendly dock installation; and hardened shoreline with extensive landscaping to demonstrate significant impact on the environment. The remainder of the shoreline will be left natural, with appropriate information explaining the benefits of doing so. Interpretive information panels will be installed at each demonstration site and will identify native plant species appropriate to plant in this ecozone, impacts of phosphorus on water quality and typical sources, the relationship between buffer zones and nutrient uptake, recommended septic system and building setbacks and reasons for these distances, benefits of shoreline naturalization and options for low-impact dock installation. The centre anticipates reaching 20 000 visitors during the summer season.

 

Project Name: Development of a Risk Indicator to Identify Soils Prone to Phosphorus Release Under Prolonged Flooding

Project Recipient: University of Winnipeg (Dr. Kumaragamage)

Environment Canada Contribution: $109,200

Status: Project to be completed in March 2015

Description: The research study will develop and validate a suitable risk indicator to identify the soils that are prone to releasing large quantities of phosphorus under waterlogged, anoxic conditions to surface runoff water, using soils in the Interlake area and Red River basin in Manitoba that contribute substantially to phosphorus loading to Lake Winnipeg. The risk indicator will be tested using surface soil and subsoil to provide additional information on the influence of top soil removal on phosphorus release to surface water under flooded conditions. The information generated would help in: (a) selecting and preparing sites (including top soil removal) for wetland restoration; (b) identifying soils where holding water could reduce phosphorus loadings downstream; and (c) identifying soils where holding water could substantially increase phosphorus loadings downstream. This tool to identify soils with a high risk of releasing phosphorus under anoxic conditions could be used in making recommendations on drainage management of flooded soils.

 

Project Name: Development of a Simulation Tool to Identify Priority Areas for Wetland Conservation and Restoration

Project Recipient: University of Manitoba (Dr. Ali)

Environment Canada Contribution: $53,475

Status: Project to be completed in March 2017

Description: The project will develop a water quantity and quality simulation tool to explore scenarios of wetland conservation and restoration. Due to landscape heterogeneity and variable hydro-meteorological conditions, not all wetlands function the same way; wetlands termed “critical” are those whose drainage would result in the most significant adverse impacts on watershed connectivity, flooding and water quality. The proposed tool will allow an examination, in a virtual environment, of which wetlands can be characterized as critical and should be conserved or restored in priority at the watershed scale. The scenarios explored will be ranked both as a function of the number of hectares of wetland conserved or restored and as a function of the decrease in the magnitude of peak flows and the decrease in the annual exports of phosphorus. Different wetland conservation and restoration scenarios will be explored, targeting a minimum 25% decrease in phosphorus export in the next 15 years. The project will take place in two watersheds in pothole-dominated landscapes of the Lake Winnipeg basin where past research has established a clear link between historical wetland drainage, increased flooding and decreasing water quality.

 

Project Name: Management of Sediments in Surface Waterways to Reduce Phosphorus Loading in Lake Winnipeg

Project Recipient: University of Manitoba (Dr. Lobb)

Environment Canada Contribution: $40,234

Status: Project to be completed in March 2015

Description: The project will: (i) identify and characterize locations within the Red River and the Winnipeg River basins where sediments accumulate; (ii) quantify the amounts of sediment and associated phosphorus; (iii) characterize management practices that affect these sediments and associated phosphorus; and (vi) evaluate existing and alternative management practices for their potential to reduce phosphorus levels within these waterways and loading to Lake Winnipeg. The project will focus on the Tobacco Creek and LaSalle River watersheds in the Red River basin and in the Catfish Creek and Whitemouth River watersheds in the Winnipeg River basin. In addition to a survey of sedimentation and sediment management practices within these watersheds, detailed evaluation of existing and alternative sediment removal and disposal practices will take place at several locations.

 

Project Name: Designing and Managing Riparian Areas to Filter Phosphorus and Sediment

Project Recipient: University of Northern British Columbia

Environment Canada Contribution: $114,222

Status: Project to be completed in March 2017

Description: The project will enhance understanding of how sediment and phosphorus move from agricultural fields into watercourses and determine whether riparian buffers are net sinks or sources of phosphorus; determine how buffer features can be manipulated to increase their filtering capacity; develop buffer design criteria and outreach materials for use by farm advisors and land managers; and produce improved protocols for the implementation of riparian buffers by assessing the bio-physical parameters and socio-economic criteria that control their uptake. Previous LWBSF-funded research by Dr. Lobb (2012) identified that it should be possible to manipulate the topography of buffer “steps” to enhance their effectiveness. However, this has yet to be evaluated through detailed field-based studies. This project will do so at a number of locations within the Lake Winnipeg watershed. Numerous study sites will be evaluated in the Winnipeg River, Red River Valley and Assiniboine River catchments, and 5–10 will be selected for detailed monitoring, manipulation and management studies.

 

Project Name: Quantification of the Internal Phosphorus Load in Lake Winnipeg to Improve Phosphorus Budgets

Project Recipient: Freshwater Research

Environment Canada Contribution: $28,000

Status: Project completed

Description: The project will determine whether internal phosphorus loading in Lake Winnipeg can be quantified using three approaches. Approach 1 uses water column increases of phosphorus concentrations throughout the summer. Approach 2 is based on mass balance calculations, involving water and phosphorus loading data from previous studies on Lake Winnipeg. Approach 3 relies on predicting an aerial phosphorus release rate from total and releasable phosphorus fractions previously determined in Lake Winnipeg sediments. Internal phosphorus loading estimates would help decision makers in several ways. First, internal phosphorus loading estimates would improve the predictive ability of any phosphorus massbalance model currently under development. Second, internal loading estimates can tell us whether and in what time frame lake water quality will respond to external load control. Worst-case scenarios of increased anoxia and internal phosphorus release as a result of increased temperatures or drought could be investigated. Therefore, knowledge about the amount of internal load is needed in setting nutrient objectives for Lake Winnipeg.

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