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Manitoba adopts watershed-based approach to conservation

The Watershed Districts Act modernizes the Conservation District Program by shifting districts to watershed-based boundaries.


January 2, 2020
By Drainage Contractor

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Manitoba has proclaimed The Watershed District Act and registered two new regulations that will formalize a watershed-based approach to watershed management in the province.

The Watershed Districts Act modernizes the Conservation District Program by shifting districts to watershed-based boundaries.

The Act also adds flexibility for local watershed districts in the areas of board appointments and terms, calculating municipal contributions, and handling board contracts and agreements related to water and soil projects that build watershed resiliency in a changing climate.

In addition, the changes:

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  • rename conservation districts as watershed districts with watershed-based boundaries;
  • allow partnerships with non-municipal entities to enhance watershed management plan implementation;
  • identify a consistent approach to the transition to watershed districts; and
  • clarify watershed district board policies and procedures.

“Our government recognizes the importance of local decision-making around water and we want to build on the success of the conservation districts model to advance watershed management in our province,” said Agriculture and Resource Development Minister Blaine Pedersen. “[T]his new model of improved watershed management strategies will improve the quality of our water in lakes, wetlands, rivers and streams, an important step towards mitigating climate change locally and globally.”

The province thanks the districts and our 104 municipal partners for their collaborative work with the province over the last several years to modernize the program, Pedersen and Conservation and Climate Minister Sarah Guillemard noted.

Manitoba has also announced more than $150 million in funding to the GROW Trust and the Conservation Trust. The Conservation Trust is intended in part to help support the work of the now Watershed Districts including for watershed planning and projects. The GROW Trust will support Growing Outcomes in Watersheds (GROW) approach that recognizes the ecological goods and services provided by natural areas and which will be delivered by Watershed Districts.