The Manitoba government is releasing its initial water strategy action plan – a focused guide to specific actions to ensure sustainability of the province’s valuable water resources for current and future generations of Manitobans.
“As a province home to 100,000 lakes, the actions outlined in the initial water strategy action plan will guide a strong path forward to protect our precious freshwater and way of life in Manitoba,” said Environment and Climate Minister Kevin Klein. “We are fortunate to live in a province with an abundance of the world’s most valuable resource, and our government is committed to managing this resource responsibly and effectively.”
In November 2022, the Manitoba government released a new comprehensive water management strategy. The first strategy of its kind in nearly 20 years will set the direction for Manitoba’s water future, providing a framework to conserve and protect the environment, enhance resiliency, improve water quality and availability, and enhance engagement and Indigenous inclusion in water management while fostering economic development opportunities. The Manitoba government recognizes that additional direct and collaborative work with Indigenous Peoples in water management and stewardship is essential, alongside other key partners.
“Manitoba Association of Watersheds would like to commend the Manitoba government for its efforts to work collaboratively with Manitoba communities in the development of the provincial water strategy and the water strategy action plan,” said Garry Wasylowski, board chair, Manitoba Association of Watersheds. “The commitment from the Manitoba government to provide funds that directly support the excellent work of watershed districts will have a positive impact on watershed health and the province’s resiliency to climate change.”
The initial action plan builds on the water strategy framework, outlining new water-related projects, programming and initiatives that the Manitoba government will continue to advance over the next several years. The action plan identifies 72 actions, representing an investment of over $990 million over the next five years including:
- $763.5 million in capital investment in provincially owned water-related infrastructure through the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure’s 2023 Multi-year Infrastructure Investment Strategy, which includes $600 million for the Lake St. Martin channel;
- $221 million for programming under the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership over the next five years, cost shared 60 per cent federally and 40 per cent provincially;
- $4 million in enhanced resources for the Manitoba Water Services Board;
- $1.64 million for enhanced drinking water safety; and
- $1.47 million in new funding within the Department of Environment and Climate for water strategy implementation, including $600,000 for watershed districts.
“Our government inherited an environment where Lake Winnipeg was deemed the most polluted lake in Canada in 2013,” said Agriculture Minister Derek Johnson. “The previous approach was irresponsible. In contrast, this action plan allows agricultural producers to continue being good stewards of the land while playing an important role in Manitoba’s overall economy.”
In partnership with stakeholders and organizational experts, the Manitoba government’s action plan will transform the water management strategy framework’s focus areas and strategic objectives into concrete actions.
“Manitoba farmers fully endorse a collaborative provincial water management strategy and action plan involving all levels of government and the agricultural sector,” said Jill Verwey, president, Keystone Agricultural Producers. “This plan will act as a guide as we move forward sustainably and take action to protect our water, while continuing to support the farming industry – a key driver of Manitoba’s economy.”
The document will be updated regularly to reflect work completed and to provide clarity on next steps and future initiatives, the ministers noted, adding that to increase transparency and accountability and to ensure continued collaboration, the Manitoba government will form a stakeholder advisory panel to help guide ongoing implementation of the water strategy and action plan.