Here is a great article Nutrient Overload Killing Lake Winnipeg by Paul Hanley writing for the StarPhoenix in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. His main message is that what happens to water in Saskatoon is connected to what happens in Lake Winnipeg. The excess nutrients, phosphorus and nitrogen, that contribute to the huge blooms of toxic blue-green algae in Lake Winnipeg are coming from a multitude of sources including the city of Saskatoon.
Its refreshing to see someone outside of Manitoba taking some responsibility for the problems of Manitoba’s great Lake Winnipeg. Its only through our combined actions that we will see an improvement in water quality in Lake Winnipeg and other water bodies across the Prairies. Here is a simple list of things we can start with to protect our precious water now and for future generations:
1. Reduce your use of phosphorus in household cleaners and soaps. Use Lake Friendly Products.
2. Create an environmentally friendly lawn and garden. Stop using cosmetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Use compost and consider a rain garden.
3. Restore your shoreline to a more natural state. Leave a buffer strip of natural vegetation on your property, aquatic plants in the water and rocks on the lake bed. These actions will improve water quality and reduce erosion because the plants act as a filter for nutrients and other contaminants running off the land.
4. Ensure that your septic system is in good shape, with no leaks. Poorly maintained septic systems can contaminate groundwater that can travel underground and contaminate wells and ultimately surface waters like the lake.Consider installing a composting toilet.
5. Do not flush anything down the toilet that shouldn’t traditionally go down the toilet. Waste water treatment systems are designed to treat human waste, not medications and chemicals. Once treated the effluent from waste lagoons and water treatment systems ends up being released into rivers and ultimately ends up in the lake.
6. Stop wasting water. Save money and water. Every drop of water that goes through our wastewater treatment systems causes wear and tear and more money. Install dual flush toilets and low flow showerheads.
7. Preserve or reconstruct wetlands. Wetlands are like nature’s kidneys in that they provide tremendous filtration of some of the excess nutrients and pollutants that are fouling our waterways. They also decrease flooding in heavy rainstorms.
8. Encourage city council to adopt Low Impact Development principles and invest in the best possible wastewater treatment systems, including managing stormwater events without dumping raw sewage into the river.