Posted by: Vicki Burns | January 22, 2019

Manitoba Government Proposed Drainage Regulation Bad For Wetland Conservation

The Manitoba government is proposing a new regulation that will actually make it easier to drain wetlands and does not adhere to their stated principle of “no net loss of wetland benefits”. It seems the main point of the proposed regulation is to decrease red tape around wetland drainage but it does nothing to ensure that we’re not losing more wetland benefits and doesn’t even begin to address the idea of restoring wetlands. Given all thatGrand Beach wetlands we know now about how wetlands help to filter excess nutrients that feed blue-green algae out of our lakes and how they act as sponges to decrease flow during floods and hold water during droughts, we need to be working to increase our wetland capacity. I have attached the comments I sent on this consultation below. Everyone is welcome to send comments to 

Attention: Drainage Consultation
Manitoba Sustainable Development
Box 16 – 200 Saulteaux Cres
Winnipeg, MB
R3J 3W3

I am writing in response to the request for input on the proposed Water Rights Regulation.
I wholly support the Manitoba government’s commitment to protecting Manitoba’s wetlands by adopting the guiding principle of no net loss of wetland benefits. Given our understanding of the role that wetlands play in filtering nutrients out of water before it enters our lakes as well as the function they provide of holding back water during flood events, the no net loss of wetland benefits is a very wise and practical value.
However, as it is currently written the proposed regulation does not adhere to the no net loss principle and actually appears to increase the risk of wetland loss.
I support the following changes to the proposed regulation:
• A province-wide drainage moratorium on all Class 3, 4 and 5 wetlands to protect the benefits they provide and reduce the costs of flood, drought and water-quality deterioration;
• The removal of permanent legal protection of existing wetlands as a compensation option, as this will result in a net loss of wetland benefits;
• A comprehensive provincial wetland inventory (including the publication of wetland-classification maps) prior to the launch of the drainage regulation process; and
• A robust auditing program of both registered and licensed drainage projects, and evidence-based evaluation of ecological outcomes achieved.

John Pomeroy’s study “The Impact of Wetland Drainage on the Hydrology of a Northern Prairie Watershed” is very helpful in understanding the tremendous importance not only of preserving existing wetlands but also the need to reconstruct wetlands to build up the natural benefits they provide. “Our results show a direct link between wetland drainage and peak streamflows during a flood,” said John Pomeroy, director of the Centre for Hydrology. “By restricting wetland drainage in the future, or restoring wetlands, we could reduce infrastructure costs from floods, such as washed-out roads and flooded communities.”
Given the tremendous damage including physical, emotional and financial wreaked by flood events in the past decade alone, it would seem very prudent to work to decrease similar consequences in future floods, which we know will occur. The proposed regulation does nothing to improve the current situation with wetlands and could well increase damages associated with floods, droughts and toxic algae in our lakes.
In conclusion, I urge the government to alter the proposed regulation to include the suggested changes listed above.

Yours truly,

Vicki Burns
Director , Save Lake Winnipeg Project



  1. Doesn’t seem fair to Blame the farmer, while Winnipeg dumps millions of gallons of raw sewage.

    • If you scroll down to some of my previous posts, you’ll see that I’ve often written about the need for the city of Winnipeg to get moving on upgrading our sewage treatment. In reference to wetlands they are essential not only for filtering pollutants out of water, but also for decreasing severity of floods and for offering resilience during drought situations.

  2. Save our wetlands and reconstruct previous ones that have been decimated. Our ecosystem is somewhat dependent on healthy, thriving wetlands!

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