No matter where you live - by the lakeshore, in the city, or on
a farm - there are many things you can do to contribute to the
health and restoration of Lake Winnipeg and other water bodies. Below are some examples from LWRC Special Projects Program participants, LWRC members, and school groups. We hope that by profiling these projects, you will be inspired to get more engaged in caring for water. Don't forget to share your projects with us!
Save Lake Winnipeg Award - Save Our Lake (SOUL) is a grassroots group, formed as a sub-committee of the provincial park based Grindstone Cottager Owners' Association (LWRC member). SOUL has been working hard on a number of initiatives aimed at mobilizing the public to take steps toward a healthier Lake Winnipeg. One such project is an award opportunity (Save Lake Winnipeg) offered to junior and intermediate level participants in the annual Manitoba Schools Science Symposium (MSSS) for science projects that create awareness and highlight actions that individuals can take to protect water from further degradation.
"River on the Run North" - Independent Manitoba Artists. "The Red River and the connecting lake and river systems are the focus for a collaboration of artists from varied disciplines who will explore the wounded body of the river as it flows – or flees – north." (in progress) Click here for more details.
Nine community foundations in Manitoba pooled resources to provide the LWRC with $82,000 for each of two years (2008 & 2009) to cover LWRC administrative costs. The foundations include: Winnipeg Foundation, Thomas Sill Foundation, Dauphin and District Community Foundation, Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation, Selkirk and District Community Foundation, Westshore Community Foundation, Lake Winnipeg Foundation, Brandon Area Community Foundation, and Community Foundation of Portage and District.
In 2006, Diageo (LWRC member) kindly paid for the LWRC tote bags in an effort to raise funds for the Education & Outreach program.
The Cecil Rhodes Video Club has won many awards for their videos. In 2006, they produced a video on Lake Winnipeg called "Troubled Waters" that won three national awards.
Other things you can do to directly reduce shoreline degradation and water quality deterioration
Restore your shoreline to a more natural state.
This would include a buffer strip of natural vegetation on your
property, aquatic plants in the water and rocks on the lake bed.
In addition to creating favourable habitat for a variety of animals,
including fish and birds, it also improves water quality and
reduces erosion. The reason nearshore vegetation improves water
quality is because it acts as a filter for nutrients and contaminants
running off of the land. Many aquatic plants, such as cattails,
are very effective at taking up nutrients and contaminants (like
heavy metals) thereby reducing their entry into the lake. The
roots of shoreline vegetation also stabilize the soil and reduce
erosion from both terrestrial runoff (from land) and from wave
Ensure that your septic system is in good shape, with no leaks.
Poorly maintained septic systems can contribute nutrients and pathogens
(viruses and bacteria) to the groundwater. Groundwater travels
underground, similar to flowing rivers, and makes its way to
surface waters such as lakes. That means your leaking septic
tank could contaminate your well water, your neighbour’s
well water, rivers and lakes.
Do not flush anything down your toilet
that shouldn’t ‘traditionally’ go
down a toilet, such as medications and chemicals.
Municipal sewage treatment plants are primarily designed to treat
human waste. Once treated, the effluent is generally released into
rivers which ultimately make their way to Lake Winnipeg (if they
are within the lake’s vast watershed). If you put other substances
down the drain, toilet or sewer, they may not get adequately treated
before being released back into the environment.
Reduce your use of phosphorus.
In addition to inadequate sewage systems, other sources of phosphorus
include lawn fertilizers, manure on agricultural land and detergents.
Any phosphorus that is not used by plants gets washed off the
land and into the water system which ultimately drains into Lake
Winnipeg. Any phosphorus going down your drain has the same fate.
Dishwasher detergents are the worst! In aquatic systems, too
many nutrients, especially phosphorus, cause excessive algal
growth. When algae die, their decomposition uses up oxygen in
the water and other living organisms, such as fish, suffocate
Keep large animals, such as cattle, away from shorelines of streams,
rivers and lakes.
This will reduce the amount of erosion caused by trampling and
will maintain the integrity of the vegetation along the shore.
It also reduces the amount of manure, and therefore nutrients,
entering the water.
Reduce the impacts caused by your recreational activities.
This includes reducing your powerboat’s speed when close
to shore so as not to create a wake. Do not drive your ATV in shallow
water. Take care not to spill gas into the lake. Do not pump bilge
into the water. Minimize your use of boat engine cleansers – they
contain highly toxic chemicals. Do not paint your boat with a paint
that contains tributyltin – this is an anti-fouling agent
that works by releasing toxins into the water. Do not dump your
grey water into the lake. Needless to say, never dump your on-board
toilet contents into the water.