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Nominations Open For 2014 Excellence in Sustainability Awards: Minister Mackintosh
Nominations are now being accepted for the 2014 Excellence in Sustainability Awards, Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh announced today.
"There is no shortage of great ideas from the creative, environmentally conscious people of this province and we're always looking to celebrate successful ideas that support the goal of reducing our impact on the en...Read More
Program pays environmental employers up to $12,000 to host a young professiona
Environmental work in Canada is getting a boost,with an opportunity for employers to get paid for hiring young professionals throughECO Canada’s International Environmental Youth Corps (IEYC) program.
Eligible Canadian companies can receive up to $12,000 to host a young professional in a full-time, permanent position related to the environment, such as environmental protection, resource management or sustainability.
With the high current rate of youth unemployment and strong skill shortages in the environmental sector, the IEYC program offers a win-win solution for unemployed or underemployed young professionals and employers.
The program has a strong history of success: 90.5% of 2013 IEYC interns secured full-time jobs after their internship term and 95% of 2013 IEYC hostsreported that their intern met or exceeded their expectations.
Key features of the IEYC wage-subsidyprogram include:Up to $12,000 in individual wage-subsidies available on a first-come, first-served basis Young professionals can apply to be pre-approved for fundingto assist their job search Internship positions must be full-timeand permanent, with a significant environmental and international component to the role Employer hosts must be Canadian-owned or a Canadian subsidiary; Interns must be Canadian citizens or landed immigrants Interns must be 30 years of age or younger and unemployed, underemployed or working outside their field of study
Funding is limited, so employers must apply early to qualify for the full wage-subsidy. Apply today at: http://bit.ly/1xzmecP
About ECO Canada:
ECO Canada develops programs that help individuals build meaningful environmental careers, provides employers with resources to find and keep the best environmental practitioners, and informs educators and governments of employment trends to ensure the ongoing prosperity of this growing sector. ECO Canada is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Sector Council Program. For more information please visit: www.eco.ca.
For more information and interview requests, please contact:
Ph: (403) 476-1953
Fax: (403) 269-9544
reprinted from Winnipeg free Press
The flood waves are still moving through Manitoba, but already it is clear that in many areas of eastern Saskatchewan and western Manitoba, 2014 has seen the largest flood since settlement. It is also the most exceptional flood -- caused by rainfall, rather than snowmelt and it occurred in June and July, rather than April and May.
The extraordinary nature of the deluge taxed provincial resources and pushed water managers to innovate with water control structures that were originally designed to deal with spring snowmelts that typically give longer lead times for response. The 2011 flood of record in the Assiniboine River was caused primarily by snowmelt as had all other recorded floods in the river.
This shift indicates a dramatic regime change in Manitoba hydrology from snowmelt to rainfall that may be partly due to climate change. This flood was not just a manifestation of weather extremes due to climate change. It was likely magnified by the impact of artificial drainage of prairie wetlands across fields in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. This drainage increases both the volume of flow and the peak flow rate -- with devastating consequences downstream.
Our study of Smith Creek, a watershed near Langenburg, Sask., showed 24 per cent wetland coverage in 1958 was reduced to 11 per cent by 2008. We reproduced the 1958 wetland coverage in a hydrological model, and then ran the same model to predict the 2011 flood stream-flows. We found the stream-flow volumes and the flood peak of 2011 rose by roughly a third, due to that drainage of the wetlands.
This drainage has occurred extensively across the Prairies and in the Assiniboine River basin, which drains into Manitoba. It almost certainly played a part in raising flood volumes and peak flows in Manitoba in this summer's flood.
This flood started in the fall of 2013, when high snowfall began to cover the eastern prairies. It was then magnified by an exceptionally hard winter with a high snowpack and a late spring melt that saturated soils, filled sloughs and replenished reservoirs. Then came the rains: 200 millimetres in some places to late June, almost the yearly total, capped at the end of the month by heavy, extensive downpours of another 200 mm in some places. With soil saturated, and sloughs filled, the water cascaded into channels that flowed rapidly into the Assiniboine River. In too many fields, sloughs were already artificially drained, spilling more water downstream into ditches.
These heavy rains are the culmination of long term trends that started in the early 20th century -- many more multiple-day rainfall events that not only occur over a long time, but over a large area, and large enough to cause flooding. Such extensive rainfall is associated with trends for 4 C of winter warming, earlier snowmelt, more rainfall in March and less spring snowfall, seen in the last 70 years in the eastern Saskatchewan headwaters of the Assiniboine River.
While slough or wetland drainage by itself does not cause flooding, it is combining with torrential rainfalls in a changing climate to deliver much more water downstream.
In few places in North America is this more evident than in Manitoba.
Manitoba is downstream of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and a large portion of the north-central U.S., so the impacts of climate change and wetland drainage are concentrated here and manifested as repeated flooding. These events would have been considered exceptional in the 20th century, but we are now seeing them every year in Canada, as is the rest of the world.
We can take steps now to protect against floods:
-- Better prediction: improved seasonal weather predictions three to six months in advance, better severe weather prediction days in advance and precise forecasting for rivers, streams, groundwater and lakes.
-- Avoidance: land-use zoning to regulated development, based on careful and continuously updated flood-plain mapping -- regardless of whether the floods are caused by rainfall, snowmelt, overland flood, wind storms or bank erosion.
-- Mitigation: dikes, flood-control structures such as dams and retention ponds, channel modifications, and agricultural water management. These structures, modifications or land-use practices must be designed for extremes of water flow.
For the Prairies, wetland restoration is the most effective mitigation option.
Advancing the science and technology of prediction is not enough. Canada is exceptional among developed nations in its fragmented responsibility and capability for water prediction between multiple levels of government.
Our federal government collects most weather and water data, and predicts weather and drought -- but it does not forecast floods, stream-flow, lake levels and water supply nationally. The provinces have authority for water-resource management and to predict floods, map flood zones and deliver frontline disaster management, reimbursement and repair.
So, the 2014 flood that started in Saskatchewan and moved into Manitoba along the Assiniboine River system was forecast as weather by the federal government, and then as stream flow by two different provinces, with very different methods, focal points and capabilities. A co-ordinated effort would be more efficient and effective.
The U.S. recently built the National Water Centre in Alabama to provide enhanced nation-wide flood and drought analyses and predictions. Environment Canada closed its federal, western-based National Hydrology Research Institute in the late 1990s.
Canada must move to reduce its exposure to flood and drought by developing a national strategy to co-ordinate river basin-wide delivery of prediction and information for flood forecasting, water management and implementation of flood prevention and mitigation strategies.
Manitoba has just lived through an excellent case for why this can't be solved by one province alone. It should promote the development of such a system initially for the Assiniboine River and ultimately for the whole Lake Winnipeg Basin.
John Pomeroy is the Canada Research Chair in Water Resources and Climate Change and Director of the Centre for Hydrology at the University of Saskatchewan. He led a multi-year study that examined the impact of wetland drainage and climate change on the hydrology of Smith Creek in the Upper Assiniboine River Basin. Parts of the study were published last month.
GOVERNMENTS INVEST IN NEW ON-FARM CONSERVATION PROJECTS TO BENEFIT THE ENVIRONMENT
Manitoba's conservation districts will receive $750,000 this year to work with farmers on projects that will improve water quality, support climate change adaptation and preserve wildlife habitat. Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development Minister Ron Kostyshyn and Robert Sopuck, Member of Parliament for Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette on behalf of Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, were in Ste. Rose du Lac to announce this program today.
"We are investing in the long-term health of our environment, by partnering with farmers and conservation districts," said Minister Kostyshyn. "These projects will inject money into the rural economy and have measurable effects on the natural landscape."
Projects such as maintaining or improving wetlands, natural tree or grassland areas and riparian areas along waterways are eligible for funding, as are new water retention projects.
"Canadian farmers are responsible stewards of our land and water resources," said MP Sopuck. "Growing Forward 2 programs help farmers implement best management practices that support environmental sustainability and the long-term viability of agriculture in Manitoba."
Farmers will receive support to complete projects with important local environmental benefits, as identified by their conservation district.
"We welcome this ongoing initiative and that additional funds are available this year," said Heather Dalgleish, chair of the Manitoba Conservation Districts Association. "Conservation districts have a proven record of delivering beneficial on-farm projects through their connection with our agricultural producers."
The on-farm projects coordinated through conservation districts are funded under Growing Forward 2's Growing Assurance - Ecological Goods and Services program. For more information on this program, including a list of all types of eligible projects, visit www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture under Growing Forward 2 - Strategic Initiatives.
In Manitoba, the federal and provincial governments are investing $176 million under Growing Forward 2, a five-year, federal-provincial-territorial policy framework to advance the agriculture industry, helping producers and processors become more innovative and competitive in world markets.
These projects support recent commitments in the province's proposed Surface Water Management Strategy, which would result in no-net loss of wetland benefits by 2020 and make significant investments in water control infrastructure. For more information about the strategy, visit www.gov.mb.ca/conservation.
Harbour Treatment Complete;
Monitoring, Boater Compliance is Key: Minister Mackintosh
June 18, 2014
The province confirms the first steps taken to fight zebra mussels on Lake Winnipeg are now complete and ongoing monitoring and containment efforts will be significantly expanded this summer by monitoring additional sites and increasing the number of portable decontamination units, Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh announced today.
"We took the bold step to treat the four affected harbours this spring and those treatments went very well but that was only the first step in the battle against zebra mussels," Minister Mackintosh said. "Now it's time for all lake users to join the fight and increase their vigilance to ensure we don't give these intruders a certain foothold in Lake Winnipeg."
Phase one of the zebra mussel treatment program is complete following successful application at the four harbours that had shown signs of zebra mussels. The Winnipeg Beach, Gimli, Arnes and Balsam Bay harbours were treated with liquid potash and all testing indicates that no zebra mussels have survived.
Manitoba Hydro has also purchased three portable decontamination units, valued at approximately $85,000, bringing the total number of units in the province to five. Decontamination units are high-heat, high-pressure mobile units that purge aquatic invasive species (AIS) from boats entering Manitoba. These units will be used by watercraft inspectors to clean boats that are considered to be a risk to introduce or spread zebra mussels.
"Manitoba Hydro wants to stop the spread of zebra mussels," said Scott Thomson, president and chief executive officer, Manitoba Hydro. "The impact they could have on our generating stations is significant. That's why we are aiding in the fight against zebra mussels by purchasing these mobile decontamination units. Anything we can do to prevent the spread of this invasive species and avoid the impacts that other utilities have seen on their operations is a good business and environmental decision."
In addition to watercraft inspections, the province is significantly increasing lake monitoring and will work with various stakeholders including some of those involved in the treatment and control project, the minister said. Throughout the summer, hundreds of samples will be taken from numerous locations throughout Lake Winnipeg including the treated harbours.
Other high-risk water bodies will be sampled based on boat traffic. Docks and dry-docked boats within the treated harbours and navigations buoys will be inspected in the fall. This includes the Namao research vessel.
This summer, watercraft inspection teams with the decontamination units will be stationed at key locations such as Manitoba entry points and busy launch sites such as Gimli, Winnipeg Beach and Selkirk Park to create awareness and reduce the chance of further transfer.
Boaters have a vital role to play in keeping the lake and other water bodies free of AIS, said the minister, adding Manitoba will reinforce that message through public awareness, a media campaign and the use of social media.
Boaters need to know it is illegal to possess or release AIS in Manitoba and there are set penalties for doing so up to $100,000.
Manitobans are reminded to take a few simple precautions every time watercraft, trailers and/or water-based gear is moved between bodies of water. This includes:
* cleaning and removing all plants, animals and mud;
* draining all water from motors, live wells, bilge, ballast tanks and bait buckets;
* drying all gear completely; and
* disposing of unwanted bait and worms in the trash.
These easy steps can prevent the introduction or reduce the further spread of aquatic invasive species.
For more information on zebra mussels and AIS, or to report a finding, go
In a symbolic nod to the past, officials here used an old coal shovel to turn the sod May 30 on a project many see as a new future of renewable energy and improved water quality.
After decades of failed attempts to drain a picturesque valley located about five kilometres southeast of Holland so farmers could use it for hay and pasture, local landowners working through the La Salle Redboine Conservation District have opted to turn it back to the cattails -- at least for now.
"We really are looking at a cattail farm," said Manitoba Conservation Minister Gord Mackintosh from the lookout point and site of a planned interpretative centre on the north side of the valley.
Construction started last week on the Pelly's Lake Watershed Management Project, which will use two water-retention structures to hold back water in the spring to backflood the valley with about 1,200-acre feet of water, a volume equivalent to one-third of the Stephenfield Lake Reservoir located to the south. The water will be released gradually beginning in June each year and act as a late-season recharge for the reservoir, which supplies the region with potable water, as well as other downstream reservoirs.
Historically speaking, the term "water management" in this province has been code for drainage, a process that typically creates upstream winners and downstream losers, whether they are landowners on the receiving end of excess water or Lake Winnipeg suffering from an influx of nutrients and sediment.
Projects that keep water on the land turn the win-lose water-management scenario into win-win with a host of spinoff benefits ranging from flood mitigation, nutrient recycling, wetland enhancement, water storage, climate change adaptation, habitat protection to public education -- not to mention the potential for renewable energy production.
The International Institute for Sustainable Development has been conducting a pilot project harvesting and baling cattails, burning them as biofuel and collecting phosphorus from the residue. A local Hutterite colony is looking into what investments it needs to take advantage of the local fuel source.
An estimated 5,000 kilograms of phosphorus can be recycled annually from this project alone. This is phosphorus that would otherwise be on a one-way trip out to sea through Lake Winnipeg.
"(Phosphorus) costs money, increasingly so. We are bringing it all the way from India and China and we've got phosphorus right here that we're flushing away to our great lake, where it is making a mess when it could be on the land growing crops," Macintosh said.
It is also hoped the managed water flows will, over time, encourage fewer cattails and more native forages for local hay farmers. Removing the phosphorus through hay and feeding it back to livestock maintains a closed-loop nutrient cycle.
"Whether they are harvesting cattails or taking the hay off for livestock, it becomes a phosphorus cycle instead of a phosphorus drain," said conservation district manager Justin Reid.
That's why this project has been generating buzz in the conservation community. It's also how the conservation district was able to enlist support from three levels of government and three conservation organizations, Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corp., the Lake Winnipeg Foundation and the International Institute for Sustainable Development -- for the $300,000 plan. That's in addition to getting six landowners in the area to agree to a long-term conservation agreement for a total 850 acres valued at about $175,000.
While some were initially hesitant to sign on, area landowner and municipal Coun. Howard Purkess said the benefits far outweigh the costs. "We really don't lose the use of it. We can still use it as pasture, we can still cut hay on it; it's just that it can never be broken or farmed cultivated," he said.
Most hope they will get more hay out of the deal. "But even if that doesn't happen, if we can add value to these cattails for the biofuel market, it is a huge plus for the area," he said.
By: Laura Rance
Source: Winnipeg Free Press
$320-million Investment to Better Manage Floods, Droughts, Protect Lake Winnipeg; Regulations to Preserve Wetland Benefits; Cut Red Tape for Routine Drainage Projects: Ministers
Manitoba is proposing its first comprehensive Surface Water Management Strategy and multi-year surface water management investments to protect Lake Winnipeg and mitigate flood and drought damage, Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh and Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton announced today.
"Manitoba faces three water woes: excessive nutrient loading of waterways that is harming Lake Winnipeg, damage from flooding and the risk of drought," said Minister Mackintosh. "All three can be mitigated with a new, sustainable approach to managing drainage and investing in flood control infrastructure."
About 75 per cent of original wetlands in Manitoba have been drained since industrial development began on the prairies, much of that in areas such as the Red River basin, impairing the natural ability of waterways to retain, release and refresh water over time, Minister Mackintosh said, adding this strategy seeks to end further loss of the benefits that wetlands provide and includes a plan to overhaul drainage licensing that would streamline approvals for routine drainage while protecting seasonal wetlands.
Key stakeholders have developed a risk-based approach to drainage licensing which moves the focus of regulation from oversight of routine drainage and water retention to those projects with potentially serious environmental impacts. Routine drainage and water retention works would have clear minimum standards, reduced wait times and associated costs, and earlier start times on the land, the minister said. Seasonal and permanent wetland benefits would be protected, and breaches would be caught through spot audits and a crackdown on illegal projects, he said, adding violators would face significantly increased fines.
"Manitoba's proposed regulatory process for drainage and water retention will improve wetland protection and help to mitigate the effects of climate change, flooding and nutrient loading on our lakes," said Dr. Scott Stephens, director of regional operations - prairies, Ducks Unlimited Canada. "The Manitoba government's commitment to a no-net loss of wetland benefits approach should be commended as it demonstrates their resolve to mitigate environmental problems that are costing Manitoban's significantly."
According to Ducks Unlimited, it is estimated the protection of Manitoba's 275,000 acres of seasonal wetlands would prevent over 200 tonnes of phosphorous from entering waterways annually, equal to about 750 hopper cars of phosphorous, and would provide the same water storage capacity as twice that of the Shellmouth Reservoir.
"Manitoba farmers, directly or indirectly, create 62,000 jobs and annually put $10 billion into the provincial economy," said Doug Chorney, president, Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP). "By improving flood protection and mitigating drought, this new regulatory process will help producers access their land and assist them in continuing to be a major economic driver. KAP is pleased to have been a part of the development of these new regulations that will also control nutrient escape."
As part of the province's $5.5-billion infrastructure plan to grow the economy and invest in Manitoba's future, $320 million has been dedicated to flood protection and water control infrastructure including surface water management, drainage, retention, dams and control structures. This is in addition to about $4 million that is expected to be invested in on-farm water retention projects over the next five years through conservation districts, the Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation, the Nature Conservancy of Canada or Ducks Unlimited Canada, Minister Ashton said.
In addition, through the Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) program, the province is helping farm managers identify the agri-environmental assets and the potential environmental effects of agriculture on the quality and supply of water resources. Since 2004, over 6,000 producers have participated and completed an environmental farm plan, assessing over 9.3 million acres of land.
Minister Mackintosh said the Surface Water Management Strategy proposes 50 actions to be implemented by 2020 including:
* no net loss of wetland benefits - drainage licenses will be generally unavailable for permanent, semi-permanent and seasonal wetlands, and where they must be drained with no alternative, there must be mitigation to more than compensate for the loss of wetland benefits;
* run-off retention pond network - research by the University of Manitoba will lead to proven retention pond models that will manage wet period run-off;
* terminal basin management - lakes with no natural outlet will be better managed with watershed-based solutions including incoming drainage controls, adjusting land use where available and water diversion only when human health and residences are threatened;
* more protected areas for wetland benefits - additional protected areas in agro Manitoba will hold more water on the land in natural grasslands and wetlands;
* green infrastructure - storm water will be better managed by such options as porous pavement, green roofs, rainwater harvesting and urban retention works;
* new Water Management Directorate - provincial government action will be co-ordinated by a new cross departmental management structure; and
* new Interagency Surface Water Advisory Team - conservation districts, planning districts, municipalities and representatives of landowners will be invited to co-operatively plan surface water management within provincial watersheds.
"By working together, we have developed a regulatory process that helps landowners and municipalities to complete work quickly and in a holistic, comprehensive approach that limits impacts downstream," said Doug Dobrowolski, president, the Association of Manitoba Municipalities.
The province also announced that a summit on tile drainage will be held in early summer to hear perspectives on the impact of tile drainage on farms and waterways.
The public is asked to comment on the proposed Surface Water Management Strategy and the Towards Sustainable Drainage consultation document by Dec.31 by visiting the department's website at www.gov.mb.ca/conservation.
Partnerships will Create New Opportunities, Good Jobs for Manitobans: Premier Selinger
June 4, 2014
NORMANDY, France - Premier Greg Selinger announced here today the government is supporting development of joint projects that will see increased flax production and fibre processing in Manitoba, as well as new research and development that will make the province a North American leader in the bio-composites industry.
"Manitoba is a major flax production centre and we are looking ahead to new markets including composites," said Premier Selinger. "These agreements with partners in Normandy will help our province continue to be at the forefront of the industry."
EcoTechnilin, a U.K.-based company, signed an agreement this week with Manitoba-based Erosion Control Blanket to market its needle-punched, non-woven mats manufactured in a Normandy facility.
"In the next several years, we are expecting $2 million sales of this green biomaterials," said Mark Myrowich, owner, Erosion Control Blanket. "There is tremendous opportunity and potential in this field. We anticipate building a new matting facility in Manitoba as sales continue to grow."
The premier also advised that Composites Innovation Centre (CIC) in Winnipeg is developing FibreCity, a unique facility in Canada to evaluate and grade natural fibres for biomaterial applications. The premier noted in particular the work of Sean McKay, executive director of CIC, for his leadership in bringing together these new partnerships.
The premier made the announcement at the Canadian Ambassador to France's residence in a speech to a Manitoba delegation comprised of business representatives and members of Manitoba's arts, culture and post-secondary education communities. Manitoba is the first province to send a delegation to France since the signing of the Canada-France Enhanced Cooperation Agenda.
Premier Selinger also met yesterday with Marc Depestele, president of Groupe Depetestele, a major fibre flax processor based in Lower Normandy.
Recently, the company has been investigating the use of flax as technical fibres in composite applications to offer renewable alternatives to fibre glass.
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