Posted by: Vicki Burns | July 24, 2012

Peat Mining Rush in Close Proximity to Lake Winnipeg

Today is the deadline for public comments on yet another peat mine permit(Sunterra Horticulture Canada Inc.) along the western edge of Lake Winnipeg. There have been several other permit applications in the past year in this same area, likely spurred by the Manitoba government’s announcement of a 2 year moratorium on new peat mine licenses in last year’s Save Lake Winnipeg Act. None of the new permit applications have been approved yet and are probably waiting till the provincial government completes their “ Manitoba Peatland Strategy”.
A few months ago I posted a blog which included an aerial picture of the current peat mine in this same area. It is quite striking how clearly it looks like strip mining and seems to confirm the concern about greater runoff from the land during heavy rain events. The Wilderness Committee has just released this colour coded map showing all the peat permit applications areas as well as where it is already occurring.

Proposed Peat Mines Map

I put it alongside this recent satellite photo of Lake Winnipeg posted on the Lake Winnipeg Research Consortium’s website and I was struck by the presence of a blue-green algae bloom in the area of the lake very close to these peat mine applications. This is the same area where fishers encountered extreme “dirt” from submerged blue-green algae in their nets last fall. I don’t know if this area is often prone to getting the algae blooms but common sense would seem to suggest that we not do anything to exacerbate the problem any further.
Alex Salki, chair of the Lake Winnipeg Foundation’s Science Advisory Committee, shared this information recently. “A recent report by ICF Marbek for Environment Canada assesses the cost effectiveness of different strategies for reducing nutrient discharges to Lake Winnipeg (cost per tonne of phosphorus removed). This confirms previous Environment Canada conclusions (Wilson 2009) for water regulation, where wetlands and water filtration by forests provided the best cost-effectiveness, better than man-made management systems.” So one does have to wonder why we would be allowing the destruction of the best natural filtration systems?

Satellite photo Lake Winipeg July 17 , from LWRC website

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