the lake winnipeg community-based monitoring network


A middle-age white man wearing sunglasses holds an integrated water sampler towards the camera, with a winter landscape in the background.

To reduce phosphorus loading to Lake Winnipeg, we need to know how, when and from where phosphorus is entering the lake.

The Lake Winnipeg Community-Based Monitoring Network (LWCBMN) is a collaborative, long-term phosphorus monitoring program designed to identify localized phosphorus hotspots where action is required to improve Lake Winnipeg water quality.

Coordinated by LWF, LWCBMN mobilizes citizen volunteers and watershed partners to collect water samples across Manitoba, generating robust water-quality data that is useful to community practitioners, academic researchers, government scientists and policy-makers alike.

Focusing phosphorus-reduction efforts in persistent, recurring hotspots is critical to improving the health of Lake Winnipeg.

"Lake Winnipeg is a huge lake, its watershed is massive, and the phosphorus comes from a multitude of sources. One person cannot solve this alone. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the problem, I am contributing to a solution. "
~ Carla Keast, LWCBMN citizen scientist
"When communities, decision-makers and scientists have the information they need, they can make evidence-based decisions to protect our freshwaters. "
~ Carolyn Dubois, DataStream Executive Director
"LWF cannot be a credible advocate for solutions without evidence-based knowledge of the problems. "
~ Dr. Greg McCullough, LWCBMN Science Advisor
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Since 2016, LWCBMN has been generating the data needed to inform policy, direct research and focus action where it will have the greatest impact.

Our program has been nationally recognized for its ability to successfully engage citizens in cost-effective, scientifically robust water stewardship, and for its role in addressing Canada’s chronic data gap by supplementing and enriching existing federal and provincial datasets.

highlights of the 2022 field season

The 2022 field season was extremely wet: the winter of 2021-2022 provided most of southern Manitoba with more than 150 cm of snow, the third highest amount of snowfall since 1872. Additionally, record precipitation in April and May saw large amounts of rain and snow falling on mostly frozen, impermeable soils, leading to flooding across southern Manitoba.

LWCBMN’s 2022 data once again saw phosphorus hotspots in Manitoba’s Red River Valley, with high exports occurring in the Seine River watershed in south-eastern Manitoba, and on the western side of the Red River at the international border.

> Read more about LWCBMN's 2022 field season

Phosphorus exports from sub-watersheds throughout the Lake Winnipeg watershed in 2022. The amount of phosphorus exported from each hectare of land in 2022 is expressed as kg/ha/yr. 

learn more about our efforts

An older man and two younger women standing in a field, looking at a data-collection form

network reports

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A closeup of a hand holding a vial of water

regional reports

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A closeup of a person filtering water through a syringe into a small vial

data for decision-making

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how the program works

LWCBMN’s field season starts as soon as the snow begins to melt and continues until October. Because citizen scientists live, work or commute near their sampling sites, they can sample frequently in response to weather events and water conditions.

Collected water samples are then analyzed in a lab to determine phosphorus concentration, which is used along with water flow data and drainage area data to calculate phosphorus load – the total amount of phosphorus flowing past a site in a field season – and phosphorus export – the amount of phosphorus exported from each hectare of land in a year, expressed as kg/ha/yr. 

We are committed to sharing LWCBMN data in an open, accessible way. In addition to annual reports generated after each field season, our phosphorus data are also available on Lake Winnipeg DataStream, an open-access online portal for sharing water-quality data.

latest network news

LWCBMN data update

After reviewing our data and consulting with our science advisors, we have removed water samples collected at hydroelectric generating stations from our dataset. We continue to work with our partners to generate credible, useful phosphorus data.

Report card on federal responsibilities for Lake Winnipeg

Water protection isn’t easy – it’s important. Our Year Three report card reviews progress made by the federal government on recommendations first presented by LWF and the Lake Winnipeg Indigenous Collective in 2020.

Newly released phosphorus data a critical part of freshwater solutions

Phosphorus data shared in series of reports released today are providing valuable information to protect Lake Winnipeg by identifying hotspots where research, resources and action must be focused.

Volunteer with LWCBMN

Looking for a tangible opportunity to improve the health of our shared waters? Become an LWCBMN citizen scientist!

LWCBMN volunteers collect samples frequently throughout the spring melt and after all large rain events. Sampling frequency reduces once water flows stabilize. Collecting a water sample takes about five minutes, and all equipment and training is provided.

To learn more, please contact LWF Program Coordinator Claire Harvey.

> email Claire

LWCBMN is delivered in partnership with Manitoba’s watershed districts, LWF’s science advisors, volunteer citizen scientists and Dr. Nora Casson’s laboratory at the University of Winnipeg. Thank you to the many people and organizations whose dedication and commitment make this network possible.