Boreal Action is a grassroots environment and social justice group.

Lake Winnipeg Free Tele-Seminar/Petition

September 20, 2017, 7pm LIVE

contact for login/registration details, or join us on Facebook at The Boreal Action Project/ see event listing. Available by phone or internet.

Canadians concerned about the health of Lake Winnipeg can sign onto this petition at: (detailed information in this post & available during the tele-seminar)

In this first of a series of FREE tele-seminars, Don Sullivan will speak to the state of Lake Winnipeg regarding blue/green algae blooms, what is causing it, how climate change will increase it, why more needs to be done, who should be doing something about it and the tie in to two North Dakota diversion project plans that threaten to transfer water from the Missouri River Basin into the Hudson Bay drainage Basin and that have the potential for adverse environmental impacts on both the Red and Souris Rivers and Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba.

Don Sullivan lives on the Eastside of Lake Winnipeg mere minutes from the Lake, is a former special advisor to the Government of Manitoba, A photographer who has published a coffee table book the Landscapes from Manidoo Abi, the former Director of the Boreal Forest Network and recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal for his outstanding contribution to his community.

The call in details will be posted to this before the event. You can use a phone or join on the webcast. There will be a Q & A.

Cover photo by Don Sullivan.





Lake Winnipeg is the tenth largest freshwater lake in the world and the sixth largest in Canada. Although Lake Winnipeg is located entirely within Manitoba, its vast (almost 1 million km2) basin is the second largest in Canada and encompasses parts of four provinces and four American states. The scale of the basin and the size of the lake make it a freshwater body of international significance.

The water quality in Lake Winnipeg has been deteriorating for several years and the chief concern is an increasing amount of nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, which are a food source for blue/green algae blooms n the lake. These nutrients originate mainly from agricultural runoff and municipal waste water and are carried into Lake Winnipeg by rivers and streams.

More than 50% of the nutrient loading to Lake Winnipeg originates from beyond Manitoba’s borders, and the Red River is the largest source.Approximately half of the phosphorus in Lake Winnipeg comes from the Red River, making it the largest source of phosphorus to the lake. On average, the Red River contributes approximately 7150 tonnes of phosphorus per year to Lake Winnipeg. A full half comes from the United States.

More concerning, though, is that algal blooms are evidence that the lake is in an advanced state of eutrophication due to high concentrations of nutrients. Eutrophication means that healthy freshwater has become so over-enriched with nutrients that algal blooms and other decaying organisms may eventually deprive the lake of its oxygen.

The Lake Winnipeg Basin Initiative (LWBI), started in 2008, aims to contribute to restoring the ecological health of Lake Winnipeg, reduce pollution from sources such as agriculture, industry and wastewater, and improve water quality for fisheries and recreation. 36 million dollars in Federal funding went the the LWBI from 2008 to 2017. In July of 2017 the Federal government announced a further commitment of an additional 25.7 million dollars to the LWBI (61.7 MILLION DOLLARS IN TOTAL FEDERAL MONEY COMMITTED TO THE LWBI)

The optimal nutrient reduction scenario for Lake Winnipeg based on scientific modelling would require a decrease of approximately 37% from current loading based on the most recent estimates of average annual phosphorus loads available.

The LWBI includes a focus on delivering nutrient reductions, and phosphorus reduction project. By their own estimates the LWBI funded projects achieved a less than 1% reduction in phosphate loading over an annual one year period.

Also the development of the State of the Lake Indicators and monitoring program for phosphates has been delayed due to a lack of capacity at the provincial.

Provincial nutrient objectives for Lake Winnipeg are based on scientific research, including the historical research conducted by Bunting et al. (2011) 34 which examined historical water quality conditions in Lake Winnipeg since the early 1800s. The authors recommended a 50% reduction in phosphorus influx to pre-1990 levels to avoid future toxic impacts.


This House of Commons petition calls on the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, the Minister responsible for the administration of the Boundary Water Treaty, to refer two water diversion projects now underway in North Dakota for review to the International Joint Commission to ensure “…that the waters herein defined as boundary waters and waters flowing across the boundary shall not be polluted on either side to the injury of health or property on the other” as per the provision contained in Article IV of the Boundary Waters Treaty.

Canadians concerned about the health of Lake Winnipeg can sign onto the petition at:

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