The appointment of Dr. David Lobb as the province’s first-ever research chair in watershed systems is a significant step in developing new, innovative ways to clean up Lake Winnipeg, Water Stewardship Minister Christine Melnick and Dr. Digvir Jayas, University of Manitoba vice-president (research), announced December 8.
“Support for cutting-edge research is one of the cornerstones of our plan to clean up Lake Winnipeg,” said Melnick. “The appointment of Dr. Lobb will set the stage for ensuring that our province’s water research is co-ordinated so we can develop innovative solutions that will help fix a problem that is generations in the making.”
“We congratulate Dr. Lobb on his being named as this inaugural senior research chair in watershed systems at the University of Manitoba,” said Jayas. “Dr. Lobb and his colleagues at the university are well-positioned to address the issues of water quality, water policy and protection. There is a wealth of knowledge housed within the many faculties and departments that are currently conducting research in areas of water quality and stewardship. These researchers are dedicated to finding solutions to the complex problems facing our resources today and for the long-term sustainability of our world.”
“The government of Manitoba is pleased to be partnering with the University of Manitoba in support of this important project,” said Innovation, Energy and Mines Minister Dave Chomiak. “The responsible stewardship of Manitoba’s waters is a duty shared by many industries such as mining, agriculture and tourism. This funding enables Dr. Lobb and his colleagues to undertake critical scientific research that will help our government build on our strong record of protecting the province’s vast waterways for the benefit of all Manitobans.”
As the provincial government’s primary research support initiative, the Manitoba Research and Innovation Fund has provided over $90 million in research and innovation support to Manitoba’s scientists and entrepreneurs since its creation in 2003.
The creation of the research chair at the University of Manitoba has been recommended by both the Clean Environment Commission and the Lake Winnipeg Stewardship Board and is supported with an investment from the Manitoba government of $1.25 million over five years.
The initial focus of Lobb’s program will be to better understand how nutrients that cause algal blooms such as those on Lake Winnipeg move so readily off Manitoba’s relatively flat prairie landscape and into streams, rivers and lakes, and to assist in identifying measures to prevent this from happening.
The creation of this research chair position at the University of Manitoba will allow strong,
co-ordinated linkages to be formed between a number of related university institutions, faculties, and departments, government and private-sector researchers, Melnick noted.
This new position builds on other provincial initiatives to clean up Lake Winnipeg including:
• passing the most comprehensive legislation in the country to protect surface and groundwater from the impacts of phosphorous;
• investing millions of dollars for waste-water treatment infrastructure upgrades to remove nutrients;
• introducing the first-in-Canada ban on phosphates in dish detergent;
• instituting a moratorium on hog expansion in areas near Lake Winnipeg;
• introducing the first-in-Canada ban on lawn fertilizers containing phosphorous;
• introducing new buffer zones protecting water from spreading nutrients like phosphorous and an outright ban in sensitive areas;
• instituting a major initiative to protect wetlands and riparian areas by providing incentives to farmers to protect these sensitive lands;
• starting a wetland restoration initiative to restore Manitoba’s two largest marsh wetlands, Netley-Libau and Delta;
• banning new sewage ejectors provincewide and banning septic fields in provincial parks and sensitive areas within a new enforcement initiative; and
• funding for research, planning and work with inter-jurisdictional partners to help keep nutrients out of Manitoba’s watershed and help Lake Winnipeg.