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Science Goals of the Lake Winnipeg Basin Initiative  

Science Goal 2

Establish watershed and in-lake nutrient budgets. Additional monitoring sites will be added throughout the basin and integrated, where appropriate, with existing water quantity stations.

Update on Recent Research: There are six projects and activities underway to help establish nutrient budgets within Lake Winnipeg and its watershed. Research is also being conducted across 24 monitoring sites within the Lake of the Woods, part of Lake Winnipeg’s watershed.

  • In 2009/10, an initial assessment of the current monitoring activities in Lake Winnipeg was undertaken in conjunction with Manitoba Water Stewardship. This work will provide a basis for best placement, timing and frequency for water quality monitoring that will detect changes in the lake and help identify future water quality management objectives.
  • Water quality sampling techniques and data were collected for Environment Canada and Province of Manitoba sampling sites, to assess the methods and data produced by the two departments. Sampling will be completed in 2010/2011 and an analysis completed in 2011. Results of this work will determine if federal and provincial data can be combined or if additional work is required to ensure the information gathered is comparable.
  • Sampling was conducted on 25 sites natural lakes and reservoirs to evaluate their role in trapping nutrients and reducing nutrient transport into Lake Winnipeg. Study sites included Lakes Dauphin, Manitoba and Winnipegosis, sites along the Saskatchewan and Winnipeg rivers, several small lakes along the Pembina River chain and Lake Ashtabula in North Dakota. Sampling and fieldwork will conclude in 2011.
  • Monitoring of water quality, phytoplankton, benthos and fish communities was conducted at coastal and shoreline sites around the south basin of Lake Winnipeg and at four sites in the Netley and Libau marshes. This will allow scientists to assess the effectiveness of marsh restoration efforts and fill gaps in current scientific monitoring data.
  • Currently, the source of the increased nutrient levels observed between Emerson and Lake Winnipeg is not well understood. Enhanced monitoring of rivers and creeks in this area was conducted in co-operation with Manitoba Water Stewardship. During the flood of 2009, Environment Canada increased sampling of the Red River at Emerson, while Manitoba sampled Red River tributaries. In 2010, Environment Canada sampled the Morris River and collected samples from rivers entering the east side of Lake Winnipeg while Manitoba sampled other tributaries entering the Red River.
  • In cooperation with Manitoba Water Stewardship, Environment Canada is conducting enhanced water quality monitoring at the Manitoba/U.S. boundary. This work will improve previous scientific estimates of nutrient levels entering the Red River from the U.S., and will allow scientists to compare current water quality against water quality objectives and alerts.



researchers throw net into the water off the side of research ship

Environment Canada researchers trawl for samples off the side of the M.V. Namao. Photo credit: Brian Parker, 2009.

two researchers drag net across shoreline of Lake Winnipeg

Researchers Elise Watchorn and Lindsay Wazny collect small fish and invertebrate samples along shoreline of Lake Winnipeg (Gimli, Manitoba) Photo credit: Cynthia Thoroski, 2010.

researcher kneeling on shore of Lake Winnipeg.

Researcher Gordon Chamberlain, collects water sample from shoreline of Lake Winnipeg (Gimli, Manitoba). Photo credit: Cynthia Thoroski, 2010.