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Cleaning Up Lake Winnipeg

Lake Winnipeg Basin Initiative

The Government of Canada is committed to the long-term sustainability of Canada's lakes and waterways to ensure that there is clean water for all Canadians, both for this, and future, generations. To this end, on August 2nd, 2012, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the launch of Phase II of the Lake Winnipeg Basin Initiative (LWBI) with a five-year (2012-2017), $18 million investment through the Action Plan for Clean Water that will focus on improving water quality for people living in the region, as well as for fish and wildlife in and surrounding Lake Winnipeg.

The Lake Winnipeg Basin Initiative aims to restore the ecological health of Lake Winnipeg, reduce pollution from sources such as agriculture, industry and wastewater, and improve water quality for fisheries and recreation. The Lake Winnipeg ecosystem supports an annual freshwater fishery of $50 million and a $110 million recreation and tourism industry.

Phase II (2012-2017) of the LWBI will build on the scientific accomplishments of Phase I (2008-2012) and move towards taking greater action to address water quality issues, including:

  • Targeting the stewardship program on actions and areas, that have the best possible impact on water quality;
  • Implementing greater watershed research and monitoring; and
  • Increasing emphasis on collaborative work with other governments within the watershed

In the first phase of the LWBI (2008-2012), the Government of Canada invested $17.7 million for three types of activities: scientific research ($12.1 million), community stewardship programs ($3.7 million); and collaboration on watershed governance ($1.9 million).

During Phase I, Environment Canada researchers took a strong, science-based approach to investigating water quality issues within the lake and its watershed. Through these efforts, the initiative was able to fill important gaps in research, data collection and monitoring of the lake's ecology and the sources and movement of nutrients that contribute to the formation of the large and persistent algae blooms seen in recent years.

In addition, the Government of Canada is also providing support for community based projects through the Lake Winnipeg Basin Stewardship Fund - part of the Lake Winnipeg Basin Initiative and administered through Environment Canada's Lake Winnipeg Basin Office. The fund is cleaning up Lake Winnipeg by providing support to action-oriented water stewardship projects led by communities, conservation authorities, non-profit organizations and academic institutions.

In addition, Phase I established a formal agreement between the Government of Canada and the Province of Manitoba through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that ensured long-term collaboration to improve the health of Lake Winnipeg. Following the establishment of this MoU, the Province of Manitoba also launched its own Save Lake Winnipeg Act (2011) and has invested over $100 million in efforts to improve the health of the lake over the past decade.

Click on the map below to find out more about what's been done to date to clean up Lake Winnipeg.

Map of funded projects Nutrient Management through Livestock Management Icelandic River and Washow Bay Creek Non-Point Source Nutrient Abatement Program Souris River Riparian Enhancement Program Seine River Riparian Enhancement Program Development of a Model/Experimental Watershed Representative of the Manitoba Prairie Pothole Region Wastewater Pond Systems in Cold Climates Modeling Water Quality in the South Basin of Lake Manitoba Qu’Appelle River Water Quality Mitigation Project Advancing Netley-Libau Marsh Restoration Efforts Building Capacity for Ecological Infrastructure Investments Development of a Preliminary Total Phosphorus Budget and Water Quality Modeling for Lake of the Woods Achieving Successful Wetland Restoration in the Assiniboine River Watershed Meewasin Valley Authority Riparian Restoration The Sustainability of Municipal Wastewater Irrigation in the Interlake Region of Manitoba as a Means of Nitrogen and Phosphorus Abatement for Lake Winnipeg Morden’s Community Lead Environmental Action on Nutrient Elimination and Removal (CLEANER) in Dead Horse Creek Moose Mountain Creek Phosphorous Reduction Project Down the Drain - A Demonstration Landscape; Using Plants and Natural Systems to Clean Our Water Pembina River Watershed Integrated Watershed Management Plan Implementation Lake Friendly Campaign Nutrient Management through Livestock Management Lake Wahtopanah Nutrient Reduction Upper Oak River Non-Point Source Nutrient Reduction Thunder and Silver Creeks Surface Water Management Paleolimnological determination of water quality Establishing a Process for Wetland Vegetation Rehabilitation and Management Program Focused on Reed Canarygrass Beaver Creek Water Retention Project Sustainable Nutrient Removal and Recovery from Wastewater Nutrient Reduction and Habitat Rehabilitation Project Enhanced Removal of Nutrients, Organic Micropollutants and Toxicity from Sewage Lagoons and Waters of Morden and Winkler Prevent Livestock Nutrient Runoff into the Souris River Lake of the Woods Water Quality Improvement Program Assessing the Relationship Between Internal Ferrous Iron Loading and Cyanobacteria Bloom Formation in Lake Winnipeg Dog River Constructed Wetland Lagoon System Pembina and Long River Riparian Enhancement Program Peguis First Nation Sustainable Cattle Management Project Innovative Process for Enhanced Phosphorus Recovery from Sludge Riparian Enhancement Initiative Sensitive Habitat Inventory and Mapping of Foreshore Areas of Lake Winnipeg’s South Basin Effective Use of Riparian Zones to Filter Sediments and Phosphorus Nutrient Reduction on Continuous Cropped Erodible Soils Wetland Restoration Preservation Initiative

Click on the red dots in the map to learn more about Lake Winnipeg clean-up projects.

Legend

Circle = Funded Project
Dotted Line = Canada-United States Border

Project Name: Icelandic River and Washow Bay Creek Non-Point Source Nutrient Abatement Program

Project Proponent: East Interlake Conservation District Environment Canada Contribution: $25,000

Status: Completed

Description: Agricultural nutrient runoff will be reduced to the Icelandic River and Washow Bay Creek through the use of fencing, alternate watering sources for cattle and riverbank vegetation zones.

Project Name: Souris River Riparian Enhancement Program

Project Proponent: Turtle Mountain Conservation District

Environment Canada Contribution: $25,000

Status: Project Completed

Description: Agricultural nutrient runoff to the Souris River has been reduced through the use of fencing, alternate watering sources for cattle and riverbank vegetation zones.

Project Name: Seine River Riparian Enhancement Program

Project Proponent: Seine-Rat River Conservation District

Environment Canada Contribution: $25,000

Status: Project Completed

Description: Agricultural nutrient runoff to the Seine River has been reduced through the use of fencing, alternate watering sources for cattle and riverbank vegetation zones.

Project Name: Development of a Model/Experimental Watershed Representative of the Manitoba Prairie Pothole Region

Project Proponent: Ducks Unlimited Canada

Environment Canada Contribution: $391,464

Status: Funded in 2008. Project to be completed in March 2012.

Description: Ducks Unlimited and partners will establish a watershed monitoring network and water quality modeling that will be used to determine how changes in land use affect water quality. Wetlands will also be restored and monitored as part of this project.

Project Name: Wastewater Pond Systems in Cold Climates

Project Proponent: Spectrum Scientific Inc.

Environment Canada Contribution: $132,767

Status: Completed

Description: A wastewater pond system will be adapted to Manitoba’s climate using a modified greenhouse structure.

Project Name: Modeling Water Quality in the South Basin of Lake Manitoba

Project Proponent: University of Manitoba

Environment Canada Contribution: $25,000

Status: Completed

Description: Understanding of Lake Manitoba water quality has been improved by this study, which also provides a basis for evaluating nitrogen and phosphorous reduction efforts. This research could also be used to measure the impact of Lake Winnipeg stewardship initiatives.

Project Name: Qu’Appelle River Water Quality Mitigation Project

Project Proponent: Upper Assiniboine River Conservation District

Environment Canada Contribution: $4,300

Status: Project Completed

Description: Agricultural nutrient runoff has been reduced to a seasonal oxbow lake in the Upper Assiniboine River through the use of fencing, alternate watering sources for cattle and riverbank vegetation zones

Project Name: Advancing Netley-Libau Marsh Restoration Efforts

Project Proponent: International Institute for Sustainable Development

Environment Canada Contribution: $44,000

Status: Completed

Description: The project will promote the nutrient reduction benefits of marshland restoration to community stakeholders. This project expands on the International Institute for Sustainable Development’s Netley-Libau Marsh Research.

Project Name: Building Capacity for Ecological Infrastructure Investments in the Red River Basin

Project Proponent: Red River Basin Commission

Environment Canada Contribution: $55,000

Status: Funded in 2008. Project completed in March 2010.

Description: Canadian municipalities and counties in the U.S. discussed costs and benefits of restoring natural environments to improve interjurisdictional water quality.

Project Name: Development of a Preliminary Total Phosphorus Budget and Water Quality Modeling for Lake of the Woods

Project Proponent: Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation

Environment Canada Contribution: $135,254

Status: Completed

Description: A phosphorous budget and water quality modeling are being developed to assist decision-making for phosphorous management in the Lake and its watershed. The Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation and partners are collaborating on this project.

Project Name: Achieving Successful Wetland Restoration in the Assiniboine River Watershed

Project Proponent: Assiniboine Watershed Stewardship Association Inc.

Environment Canada Contribution: $139,400

Status: Funded in 2008. Project to be completed in December 2011.

Description: Source water quality in the Assiniboine River and its tributaries will be improved. Lake Winnipeg will benefit from better downstream water quality.

Project Name: Meewasin Valley Authority Riparian Restoration

Project Proponent: Meewasin Valley Authority

Environment Canada Contribution: $21,608

Status: Project Completed

Description: Water quality in the South Saskatchewan River and Lake Winnipeg has improved by restoring natural vegetation to damaged shore lands and by educating the public on the importance of riparian zones in river ecology.

Project Name: The Sustainability of Municipal Wastewater Irrigation in the Interlake Region of Manitoba as a Means of Nitrogen and Phosphorus Abatement for Lake Winnipeg

Project Proponent: East Interlake Conservation District

Environment Canada Contribution: $6,257

Status: Project Completed

Description: Wastewater irrigation, as an alternative to discharging wastewater directly to waterways leading to Lake Winnipeg, was assessed. The project involved three short-term field demonstrations of wastewater irrigation, municipal/town council focus groups on wastewater irrigation and a local resident survey to assess perceptions on wastewater re-use within their communities.

Project Name: Morden’s Community Lead Environmental Action on Nutrient Elimination and Removal (CLEANER) in Dead Horse Creek

Project Proponent: University of Winnipeg

Environment Canada Contribution: $109,372

Status: Funded in 2009. Project to be completed in March 2012.

Description: This extensive water sampling and analysis program is identifying and monitoring sources of phosphorous and nitrogen along Dead Horse Creek, Plum River and the Red River near Morden, Manitoba. University undergraduate and high school students will contribute research products and practices to potentially reduce phosphorous and nitrogen in these waterways. Students will also lead community-based social marketing efforts to encourage Morden area residents to deposit less phosphorous and nitrogen in the town’s storm and sanitary wastewater systems.

Project Name: Moose Mountain Creek Phosphorous Reduction Project

Project Proponent: Cornerstone Regional Economic Development Authority

Environment Canada Contribution: $37,250

Status: Funded in 2009. Project to be completed in March 2011.

Description: Beneficial management practices (BMPs) that reduce agricultural phosphorous loads and improve water quality are being promoted. Perennial forage seeding, exclusion fencing, portable windbreaks and portable water systems are all improving water quality. Stewardship agreements are engaging landowners to convert cropland to perennial forage, restore wetlands and improve both winter site and riparian zone management. BMPs are being promoted across the watershed through outreach activities such as field demonstration days, public newsletters and on-site farm visits by technicians.

Project Name: Down the Drain - A Demonstration Landscape; Using Plants and Natural Systems to Clean Our Water

Project Proponent: Rivers West Red River Corridor Inc.

Environment Canada Contribution: $46, 014

Status: Completed

Description: Rivers West Red River Corridor Inc. and partners are designing and constructing a “rain garden” or bioretention system that filters storm runoff using landscaping similar to that found in forest ecosystems. The project is also encouraging the community and local schools to participate in the project and learn more about water quality challenges facing Lake Winnipeg

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Project Name: Wetland Restoration Preservation Initiative

Project Recipient: East Interlake Conservation District

Environment Canada Contribution: $26,000

Status: Funded in 2011. To be completed in March 2012.

Description: The East Interlake Conservation District (EICD) is working with landowners in locations at risk of wetland loss to encourage the establishment of conservation agreements with EICD and the Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation. These agreements will protect this land from future development and prevent further agricultural nutrients from entering Lake Winnipeg at these sites.

Project Name: Pembina River Watershed – Integrated Watershed Management Plan

Project Proponent: Pembina Valley Conservation District

Environment Canada Contribution: $25,000

Status: Funded in 2009. To be completed in March 2011.

Description: The Pembina Valley Conservation District is engaging landowners near Rock Lake and Killarney Lake to reduce nutrient loads and shoreline erosion by restricting cattle access to waterways leading into Lake Winnipeg. In addition, a water retention dam is being constructed above an eroding gully close to Rock Lake, reducing sediment runoff in drinking water sources and larger waterways entering Lake Winnipeg.

Project Name: Lake Friendly Campaign

Project Recipient: Lake Winnipeg South Basin Mayors and Reeves

Environment Canada Contribution: $241,520

Status: Funded in 2009. To be completed in March 2012.

Description: The Lake Winnipeg South Basin Mayors and Reeves are reducing nutrient contributions to Lake Winnipeg by informing and educating consumers about products that are the best environmental choice for Lake Winnipeg. The project’s “It’s Lake Friendly” labelling campaign identifies products that are better environmental choices for reducing nutrients to Lake Winnipeg.

Project Name: Nutrient Management through Livestock Management

Project Recipient: Assiniboine Hills Conservation District

Environment Canada Contribution: $22,500

Status: Completed

Description: The Assiniboine Hills Conservation District is working with landowners and cattle operators to develop three riverbank management sites that are reducing nutrient flows to Lake Winnipeg through practices such as: fencing to restrict livestock creek access, alternative watering and overwintering sites located away from the riverbank.

Project Name: Lake Wahtopanah Nutrient Reduction Project

Project Recipient: Little Saskatchewan River Conservation District

Environment Canada Contribution: $25,000

Status: Completed

Description: The Little Saskatchewan River Conservation District and landowners are working together to reduce phosphorus loads to Lake Winnipeg by identifying and restoring primary shoreline areas along Lake Wahtopanah. They are improving water quality in these areas through beneficial management practices such as planting riparian buffers zones and grassed waterways, installing offsite watering systems, and constructing retention ponds.

Project Name: Upper Oak River Non-Point Source Nutrient Reduction Project

Project Recipient: Upper Assiniboine River Conservation District

Environment Canada Contribution: $25,000

Status: Completed

Description: The Upper Assiniboine River Conservation District and landowners are reducing phosphorus loads to Lake Winnipeg by identifying and restoring primary shoreline areas along the Upper Oak River sub-watershed. They are also re-establishing perennial cover in these areas to reduce erosion and runoff sediment, reduce nutrient loads to Lake Winnipeg and benefit local aquatic ecosystems.

Project Name: Thunder and Silver Creeks Surface Water Management Project

Project Recipient: Birdtail Assiniboine Water Planning Authority

Environment Canada Contribution: $25,000

Status: Completed

Description: The Birdtail Assiniboine Water Planning Authority is working with local landowners to select priority restoration areas along Thunder Creek and Silver Creek. Through beneficial management practices such as reconstructing wetlands, building water retention ponds and developing in-stream erosion structures, their efforts are limiting nutrient loads and reducing the impacts of local flooding.

Project Name: Paleolimnological Determination of Water Quality Change in Lake Winnipeg for Use as Management and Remediation Goals

Project Recipient: Dr. Peter Leavitt, University of Regina

Environment Canada Contribution: $126,162.50

Status: Funded in 2009. To be completed in March 2012.

Description: Seven researchers from four universities are working together to create a long-term record of historical water quality changes within the north basin of Lake Winnipeg. This research is documenting past trends and recent changes such as increases in potentially toxic cyanobacteria and changes in the lakes nitrogen, phosphorus and carbon levels. This research will help decision-makers to set ecologically-relevant goals for nutrient reduction and the future management and protection of Lake Winnipeg.

Project Name: Establishing a Process for a Wetland Vegetation Rehabilitation and Management program focused on Reed Canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea): A Parkland Mews Case Study

Project Recipient: The University of Manitoba

Environment Canada Contribution: $13,000

Status: Funded in 2010. To be completed in August 2011

Description: The University of Manitoba is conducting research that will minimize knowledge gaps in the control of the invasive species, Reed Canarygrass. Research results will examine the effectiveness of constructed wetland cells to prevent nutrient loads and will determine the connection between increased nitrogen and phosphorus loads and Reed Canarygrass.

Project Name: Beaver Creek Water Retention Project

Project Recipient: Upper Assiniboine River Conservation District

Environment Canada Contribution: $4,000

Status: Completed

Description: The Upper Assiniboine River Conservation District is working with partners to create a dam that will reduce local seasonal flooding and nutrient runoff in the Beaver Creek watershed. The dam will allow water to be captured in early spring and slowly filter into surrounding soils to recharge local ground water and increase flow to important fish habitat downstream.

Project Name: Sustainable Nutrient Removal and Recovery from Wastewater

Project Recipient: The University of Manitoba

Environment Canada Contribution: $36,000

Status: Funded in 2010. To be completed in March 2012.

Description: The University of Manitoba is developing a method for treating municipal wastewater through an innovative biological process that reduces nutrient loads to Lake Winnipeg while allowing for the recovery of phosphorus -- a valuable economic resource. The results of this project will be used to carry out a pilot study at the City of Winnipeg’s South End wastewater treatment plant.

Project Name: Nutrient Reduction and Habitat Rehabilitation Project

Project Recipient: West Interlake Watershed Conservation District

Environment Canada Contribution: $12,500

Status: Funded in 2010. To be completed in December 2011

Description: The West Interlake Watershed Conservation District is improving local water quality by eliminating cattle access along three creeks through the installation of exclusion fencing, off-site watering systems and cattle crossings, and restoring riverbank vegetation areas.

Project Name: Enhanced Removal of Nutrients, Organic Micropollutants and Toxicity from Sewage Lagoons and Waters of Morden and Winkler by Manipulative Constructed Wetland Microcosms

Project Recipient: The University of Winnipeg

Environment Canada Contribution: $148,760

Status: Funded in 2010. To be completed in March 2012

Description: The University of Winnipeg is researching the benefits of using constructed wetlands to remove nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen and other toxic substances from rural waste waters.

Project Name: Prevent Livestock Nutrient Runoff into the Souris River

Project Recipient: Assiniboine Hills Conservation District

Environment Canada Contribution: $12,300

Status: Funded in 2010. To be completed in March 2012.

Description: The Assiniboine Hills Conservation District is setting up fencing and alternative wintering sites for cattle as well as portable wind breaks and swath grazing along the Souris River. These beneficial management practices are significantly reducing the loading of nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen into this tributary of Lake Winnipeg.

Project Name: Lake of the Woods Water Quality Improvement Program

Project Recipient: Anishinaabeg of Kabapikotawangag Resource Council Inc

Environment Canada Contribution: $12,050

Status: Completed

Description: The Anishinaabeg of Kabapikotawangag Resource Council and partners are identifying and preventing sources of nutrient runoff to the Lake of the Woods. In addition to analyzing and prioritizing sites for future water quality improvements, project leaders are educating the local community on how residents can help to improve local water quality.

Project Name: Assessing the Relationship between Internal Ferrous Iron Loading and Cyanobacteria Bloom Formation in Lake Winnipeg

Project Recipient: Faculty of Environmental Studies – York University

Environment Canada Contribution: $24,800

Status: Funded in 2010. To be completed in March 2012.

Description: York University is researching how loading rates and quantities of internal ferrous iron and other sediments can help predict the formation of cyanobacterial algae blooms within Lake Winnipeg.

Project Name: Dog River Constructed Wetland Lagoon System

Project Recipient: Moose Jaw River Watershed Stewards Inc.

Environment Canada Contribution: $25,000

Status: Funded in 2010. To be completed in March 2012.

Description: The Moose Jaw River Watershed Stewards and partners are creating a wetland lagoon system that will restore native plant communities and provide a healthier aquatic ecosystem downstream.

Project Name: Pembina and Long River Riparian Enhancement Program

Project Recipient: Turtle Mountain Conservation District

Environment Canada Contribution: $20,000

Status: Funded in 2011. To be completed by March 2012.

Description: The Turtle Mountain Conservation District is encouraging land managers along Manitoba’s Pembina River and Long River to implement agricultural practices that will benefit water quality and improve local riverbank integrity. Some of these beneficial agricultural management practices include restrictive cattle fencing and remote watering systems for cattle and the re-establishment of riverbank vegetation as a “buffer” zone to prevent erosion.

Project Name: Peguis First Nation Sustainable Cattle Management Project

Project Recipient: Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources (CIER)

Environment Canada Contribution: $15,000

Status: Funded in 2011. To be completed by March 2012.

Description: To improve water quality in the Peguis First Nation, the Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources (CIER) is working with a community producer to create a new management system designed to more effectively spread cattle manure. The result will be greater agricultural productivity, reduced overland runoff and fewer nutrients entering the local watershed. CIER is also providing guidance to help the producer to reconstruct farm operations with techniques such as cattle rotation, restrictive fencing and other beneficial agricultural management practices.

Project Name: Innovative Process for Enhanced Phosphorus Recovery from Sludge

Project Recipient:University of Manitoba (Dr. Jan Oleszkiewicz)

Environment Canada Contribution: $26,000

Status: Funded in 2011. To be completed by March 2012.

Description: The University of Manitoba is conducting new research on the potential use of water treatment reactors to recover phosphorus from wastewater sludge. The results of this innovative study will be tested in a pilot experiment at the City of Winnipeg’s South End wastewater treatment plant.

Project Name: Riparian Enhancement Initiative

Project Recipient: Whitemud Watershed Conservation District

Environment Canada Contribution: $20,000

Status: Funded in 2011. To be completed by March 2012.

Description: The Whitemud Watershed Conservation District is protecting Lake Winnipeg water quality by enhancing the health, longevity, and effectiveness of riverbank buffer zones along the Whitemud River. Project leaders are constructing restrictive fencing to keep cattle from damaging the riverbank and polluting the water, re-establishing riverbank buffer zones with natural materials and native plants, and working with landowners to ensure future protection of the riverbank zone and its water quality.

Project Name: Sensitive Habitat Inventory and Mapping of Foreshore Areas of Lake Winnipeg’s South Basin

Project Recipient: Lake Winnipeg Foundation

Environment Canada Contribution: $107,450

Status: Funded in 2011. To be completed in March 2012.

Description: Foreshore areas are often significantly impacted by human activities and play a key role in the health and vitality of Lake Winnipeg. The Lake Winnipeg Foundation is gathering aerial photos and field research on ecosystems along the south basin of Lake Winnipeg’s foreshore. This information will provide decision makers, planners, developers, landowners, and government agencies with the tools they need to make sustainable shoreline use decisions.

Project Name: Effective Use of Riparian Zones to Filter Sediments and Phosphorus

Project Recipient: University of Manitoba (Dr. David A. Lobb)

Environment Canada Contribution: $99,600

Status: Funded in 2011. To be completed by March 2012.

Description: The University of Manitoba will undertake a comprehensive study on the use of riparian areas as filters for sediment and phosphorus that enter waterways from agricultural land. Data from previous studies in the Lake Winnipeg basin are being analyzed and enhanced through continued field research. The final results will provide decision-makers with the information they need to determine the future use of riverbank areas in preventing nutrients from entering Lake Winnipeg and its watershed.

Project Name: Nutrient Reduction on Continuous Cropped Erodible Soils

Project Recipient: Swan Lake Watershed Conservation District

Environment Canada Contribution: $25,000

Status: Funded in 2011. To be completed by March 2012.

Description: The Swan Lake Watershed Conservation District (SLWCD) is working with land owners in southwest Manitoba to prevent topsoil loss and the negative impacts it has on groundwater quality. Together, the SLWCD and landowners are constructing flow-reduction waterways that will re-establish natural vegetated areas in cropland that is vulnerable to erosion and soil loss.

Project Name: Wetland Restoration Preservation Initiative

Project Recipient: East Interlake Conservation District

Environment Canada Contribution: $26,000

Status: Funded in 2011. To be completed in March 2012.

Description: The East Interlake Conservation District (EICD) is working with landowners in locations at risk of wetland loss to encourage the establishment of conservation agreements with EICD and the Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation. These agreements will protect this land from future development and prevent further agricultural nutrients from entering Lake Winnipeg at these sites.