Managing Canada-US boundary waters

The Lake of the Woodsinitiative will contribute to the establishment of nutrient concentration objectives and load reduction targets for Lake of the Woods, selected embayments and the Rainy River.  This in turn will contribute to the reduction of episodic algal blooms and most specifically the harmful (cyanotoxic) algal blooms, and will support a healthy and viable fish populations, important for both a  recreational sport fishery and a sustainable consumption fishery for First Nations communities. Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) will undertake the science and monitoring work required in Canada to implement a refined binational science plan for the Lake of the Woods Basin.  The key science activities can be grouped into four categories: 1) intensive and long-term monitoring of nutrient loadings; 2) research and monitoring of algae composition and diversity through insitu and remote sensing techniques and related analysis; 3) risk based analysis of toxic cyanobactiera events; and 4) integrated modelling of the Lake and its tributaries to support management scenarios.  

The Lake of the Woods initiative will have important positive environmental effects and socio-economic benefits to the people living in the basin, especially over the longer-term. The most significant direct outcome of this TB submission will be the provision of foundational data to support development of binationally agreed upon nutrient targets that will limit the frequency, duration and spatial extent of harmful algal blooms and will support a healthy and viable fish populations, important for both a  recreational sport fishery and a sustainable consumption fishery for First Nations communities.  

There are a number of potential indirect outcomes such as updated limitations on nutrient discharges from industry, implementation of agricultural best management practises that reduce nutrients in waterways, improved recreational enjoyment of the waters in the basin and a decrease in nutrients to downstream Lake Winnipeg from the Lake of the Woods basin.

This proposal will contribute to the FSDS goals: Freshwater and Oceans Protect and enhance water quality and water quantity so that it is clean, safe and secure for all Canadians and supports healthy ecosystems’. Targets that contribute to this goal focus on protecting and restoring aquatic ecosystems by preventing water pollution from ships, industrial facilities and other sources; and working with partners to manage Canada's water resources.

A strategic Environmental Assessment was completed.  The proposal concludes that the Lake of the Woods initiative will have important positive environmental effects and socio-economic benefits to the people living in the basin, especially over the longer-term. The proposed initiative will contribute to the establishment of nutrient concentration objectives and load reduction targets. Further, through scenario modeling, a number of management actions will be evaluated, such as best management practices, to achieve the nutrient reductions to the lake. Once implemented, these actions will be beneficial in reducing toxic and nuisance algal blooms in the lake.

Monitoring of water, sediment and biota will be undertaken by ECCC and other agencies in the LoW basin to track the progress of achieving the conditions needed to limit harmful algal growth.

For more information on the Lake of the Woods initiative (only available in English).

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