Posted by: Vicki Burns | June 8, 2011

Save Lake Winnipeg Act on Manitoba Government Agenda

Last week the Manitoba government announced that they are putting forward a new piece of legislation called the Save Lake Winnipeg Act. Its part of their plan to reduce the phosphorus load to the lake by 50% to return to a pre-1990 state. The announcement of this plan is a result of a 5 year study that was just released by Dr. Peter Leavitt of the University of Regina.

image of blue-green algae on beach at lake

Victoria Beach on Lake Winnipeg fouled with blue-green algae

Dr. Leavitt’s study focussed on the main sources of the excess phosphorus and nitrogen that are feeding the ever-growing blooms of blue-green algae on Lake Winnipeg. He points out that since 1990 the number of pigs raised in Manitoba has grown 5 fold while the intensification of the industry has resulted in 350 fewer hog farms but an 8 fold increase in the pig density per barn. Not surprisingly to me and many others who were concerned about the explosion in the hog industry in Manitoba, this has resulted in a big increase to the phosphorus and nitrogen getting into our waters. Another very important fact is that 47% of the phosphorus and 49% of the nitrogen are coming from within Manitoba’s own borders.
Dr. Leavitt’s study also noted that between 5 – 10 % of the phosphorus and nitrogen load to Lake Winnipeg is coming from the city of Winnipeg, which should add weight to the push for our city to get moving on bringing our wastewater treatment processes to the most progressive standards. If those of us living in the largest city closest to Lake Winnipeg cannot even claim that we’re doing the best job we can to decrease our contribution to this problem, how can we expect others to do more?
In conclusion, I’m gratified to see Dr. Leavitt’s report which spells out quite clearly some of the major factors contributing to Lake Winnipeg’s blue-green algae problem. I’m also pleased that the Manitoba government is starting to express stronger leadership towards solving this problem. The bottom line though, is that all of us can do a lot more to learn about how to protect our precious freshwater. Restoring the health of Lake Winnipeg and its watershed is going to taking action from everyone.



  1. Hello,
    My name is Cathryn Bingham, and I am a graphic designer in Vancouver, BC. I’m currently working on a document for the Manitoba Museum and their H2O Solutions project. I found your picture of “Victoria Beach on Lake Winnipeg fouled with blue-green algae” and was wondering if we could please include it in our document? The document will be used for internal museum and possibly fundraising uses only.

    I appreciate your time and help.
    Thank you very much!


    • The picture was taken by Greg McCullough of the University of Manitoba so he should get credit on it. He has been most generous in allowing the use of it so I’m sure he won’t mind.

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