Posted by: Vicki Burns | August 30, 2010

Blue-Green Algae, Lake Winnipeg and Wetlands at the Lake’s Edge

As the problem of blue-green algae blooms continues to grow on Lake Winnipeg ( and around the world), there are some types of development that are still being allowed that are part of the problem (eg. Beaconia beach). It is likely that many people don’t understand the function of the marshes and wetlands that border some of the water’s edge. In the last few days, I had a chance to speak with several scientists who have focussed much of their study on the role and function of wetlands. There are several developments being started around the edges of Lake Winnipeg that are raising concerns.

image of marsh at lake's edge

Marsh – last line of defence before the lake

As Dr. Gordon Goldsborough, University of Manitoba, put it to me “ this virgin shore land is the last line of defence before all the chemicals and runoff” hits the water. The marshes at the water’s edge act as a buffer zone, binding some of the unwanted chemicals and excess nutrients,that we don’t want getting into the water. When those natural shorelines are disturbed that buffer zone can no longer do its job.
Dr. Dale Wrubleski of Ducks Unlimited pointed out the importance of those coastal wetlands in providing spawning areas for fish and important habitat for other wildlife. He referenced a report from several years ago “The Netley/Libau Marsh Fish Resource” by R.A. Janusz and J.O’Connor  that spelled out clearly the value of these marsh areas.
Even though some of these developments may seem very small in comparison to the overall size of the lake, their impact is cumulative.
So, how can we satisfy the growth and development needs of these rural municipalities without damaging Lake Winnipeg?

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