Posted by: Vicki Burns | June 22, 2012

Shoreline Erosion Prevention on Lake Winnipeg

Last week I participated in a tour organized by the Manitoba Conservations Districts Association in partnership with the East Interlake Conservation District( EICD). They were showcasing some of the progressive projects that are happening within their conservation district. It was a very informative day, having the opportunity to see in real life some of the good work going on, as well as an opportunity to connect with people from across Manitoba who are working in conservation districts.

Hnausa Beach before and after willow planting, photo courtesy of Todd Schwartz

One of the projects that really caught my attention was a shoreline erosion prevention project at Hnausa Beach Park that was using a bio-technical engineering approach. It was combining the soil bioengineering approach of planting willows with the engineering approach of adding rocks. Todd Schwartz, Fish Habitat Biologist with DFO Canada, who was in charge of this willow planting project, explained that one of the most important features for the success of this project was the gentle slope that was employed. The angle of the slope trips the waves and allows them to drop their sand rather than a steeper vertical slope which causes them to bounce back taking the sand back out with them. The willow roots help to hang onto the soil. I was impressed to learn that this approach at Hnausa Beach survived the big weather bomb of October 2010 , while the beach right alongside that did not have the willow planting lost about 2 to 3 meters. The bio-technical approach is not a perfect solution for every situation but it certainly seems to help in some.

There is a wealth of information in the province of Manitoba’s Shoreline Management Handbook and advice available from the Shoreline Erosion Technical Committee for homeowners. One concept that I think we all need to accept though, is that some erosion is a basic natural process and over time the lake’s shoreline is going to change. It’s a hard fact to accept if you have a home close to the water’s edge.Check out this map of Lake Winnipeg over the past 5500 years. Its fascinating to see how the lake has expanded.

image of 3 maps of Lake Winnipeg showing the lake expanding over 5500 years

Map of Lake Winnipeg over last 5500 years courtesy of Manitoba Hydro


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