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Provincial mandate letters mark government’s commitment to protecting Lake Winnipeg

The protection of Lake Winnipeg has been identified as a key commitment of Manitoba's new government in the October 2023 mandate letters issued by Premier Wab Kinew.

Mandate letters outline the premier’s expectations for each cabinet minister, including government priorities they are to focus on and specific objectives they are to accomplish.

Environment and Climate Change Minister Tracy Schmidt has been directed to “Work with experts and scientists to protect Lake Winnipeg and safeguard the health of all our waterways.”

Minister Lisa Naylor, who leads the departments of Transportation and Infrastructure as well as Consumer Protection and Government Services, was asked to “work with other levels of government to get the upgrades to the North End Water Pollution Control Centre done.” And Municipal and Northern Relations Minister Ian Bushie was tasked with working with municipalities to improve wastewater management, and establishing a multi-year funding model for municipal infrastructure and maintenance.

The health of Lake Winnipeg is both a provincial priority and a cross-cutting file, and we are encouraged to see it recognized as such by Premier Kinew.

To make measurable progress in improving Lake Winnipeg’s water quality, Manitoba’s government must ensure that policy and investment decisions are focused on phosphorus reduction, an approach that is both evidence-based and economically feasible.

What we’re doing

LWF has sent letters to Premier Kinew and Ministers Schmidt, Naylor and Bushie, emphasizing the importance of focusing on phosphorus reduction to improve the health of Lake Winnipeg, and re-iterating our call for accelerated phosphorus compliance at Winnipeg’s North End Water Pollution Control Centre (NEWPCC), the single-largest point source of phosphorus to the lake.

Manitoba’s government first set the conditions of NEWPCC’s operating licence in 2005 – among them, a requirement that the total phosphorus concentration in the plant’s wastewater effluent not exceed 1.0 mg/L. To date, NEWPCC remains non-compliant with this limit.

We are recommending that Manitoba’s new government amend NEWPCC’s provincial operating licence to require that the provincial phosphorus limit be met upon completion of the biosolids facilities. Currently, the targeted completion date for the new biosolids facilities is 2030.

We are also urging the provincial government to increase funding for biosolids facilities construction, contingent on these additional provincial funds being used to meet and sustain phosphorus compliance upon completion of these new biosolids facilities.

How you can help

Join us in advocating for accelerated phosphorus compliance at NEWPCC.

Send an email or letter to Environment and Climate Change Minister Tracy Schmidt and Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Lisa Naylor. (If you prefer, you can also mail a letter to each minister.)

Here is an example of an effective message:

“Dear Ministers,

I am reaching out today on an issue that matters deeply to me: the impact of Winnipeg’s North End Water Pollution Control Centre (NEWPCC) on the health of Lake Winnipeg. 

Phosphorus pollution from this sewage treatment plant is driving the growth of algal blooms on Lake Winnipeg, a place which is important to myself, my family and many others. I am also aware that this plant is not meeting the phosphorus limit set out in its provincial operating licence.

I was encouraged to see the protection of Lake Winnipeg identified as a key commitment of your government in Premier Kinew’s recent mandate letters. I now urge you to follow through on this commitment by taking the necessary steps to accelerate phosphorus compliance at NEWPCC.

Manitoba’s new provincial government must amend NEWPCC’s provincial operating licence to require that the treatment plant meet and sustain the phosphorus limit of 1.0 mg/L upon completion of the plant’s new biosolids facilities. I also recommend that you increase provincial funding for NEWPCC upgrades, contingent on these additional funds being used to achieve phosphorus compliance through the construction of the new biosolids facilities.

As a lake-lover and a voter, I expect my government to make cost-effective, evidence-based decisions to protect the health of our shared waters. Please fulfil your mandate and use your authority to ensure phosphorus compliance is accelerated at NEWPCC.

I would appreciate a reply to this email/letter. 

Sincerely, 

Your name” 

You can also help spread the word on social media by liking/sharing our posts about the need for accelerated phosphorus compliance at NEWPCC on Instagram, X (the network formally known as Twitter) or Facebook.

Together, we can ensure Manitoba’s political leaders and public service follow through on their commitments – and their responsibility to protect Lake Winnipeg.

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