Posted by: Vicki Burns | November 28, 2012

City of Winnipeg’s Stalling Sends Negative Message Throughout the Province

Another year has passed and once again we hear that the city of Winnipeg is delaying beginning the upgrades to the sewage treatment plant. According to statistics from the National Pollutant Release Inventory, Winnipeg is the 4th largest polluter of phosphorus in Canada. This distinction goes along with being the closest large city to Lake Winnipeg which is being considered one of the most threatened lakes in the world, due to growing blue-green algae blooms.

The city of Winnipeg is the single largest contributor of phosphorus to Lake Winnipeg even though it is only 5% of the total phosphorus load to the lake. There is no other single source of phosphorus that can be decreased in this way. For many of us who are working on various issues related to saving Lake Winnipeg, it is very discouraging to see this abdication of leadership from our city. Every time we travel outside the perimeter highway to speak with groups in rural Manitoba about their impact on our largest lake, we are reminded that we cannot even motivate our own city to take action. Saving Lake Winnipeg and several other freshwater lakes in Manitoba is going to take some effort and some investment from every Manitoban. We all benefit in a myriad of ways from having safe, swimmable, fishable lakes and we are all going to have to pay to protect these precious water bodies.

Magnificent Lake Winnipeg

The cost of the upgrades to our sewage treatment system are only going to keep rising. The longer we delay, the costlier it will become and those costs may include financial impacts of the degradation of our lakes – decreased property values, lost tourism, decreased fisheries, to name a few.

The city of Winnipeg has been gradually increasing the water and sewer rates for many years with the justification that the money is needed for improvements to the systems. I’m just now finding out that some of those increased $$ have gone into the general coffers rather than what we were told. So instead of bragging that we’ve had no property tax increases for over a decade, we are now facing very significant costs to do what should have been done many years ago. It’s time for common sense to prevail.  Let’s get on with what needs to be done without further delay. Lake Winnipeg can be saved but we need to take action now. Our own city needs to step up and demonstrate the leadership to do the right thing!



  1. Dr.David Schindlers message this week, when he was in town, clearly stated again, that it was NOT neccessary to remove ‘Nitrogen’ substances. The city could save a bundle by doing what he as an expert says. This fact has been demonstrated by experiments regarding algae and studies of eutrophic lakes all around the world, as well as at the ELA.
    Maybe someone with more clout than I have should remind Mayor Katz of this fact.Perhaps the City could start doing something active about our treatment plant then and spend our money on projects in which it was intended to go.

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