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Manitoba signs on to flood and drought planning model


September 15, 2016
By Manitoba Forage and Grassland Association

The pieces are all falling into place for the Manitoba Forage and Grassland Association (MFGA) Aquanty modelling project for the Assiniboine River Basin.

Ralph Eichler, Manitoba’s minister of agriculture, recently signed the province’s commitment to the $1.7 million project, adding his signature to Lawrence MacAulay (Canada’s minister of agriculture)’s on the project.

“The Manitoba government is a proud partner on this project,” Eichler said in a press release. “This work will enhance the scientific understanding of how the landscape is affected by flooding and drought, as well as the practices available to farmers that may prevent or minimize these challenges.”

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), Growing Forward 2, AgriRisk Initiative is the primary funding partner committing $1,145,800 while Manitoba Agriculture is the secondary funding partner, committing $180,000 to the two-year project through Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The remainder of the $1,732,300 total project funding will be provided by partners and supporters via a combination of in-kind and cash contributions.

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The official signings, says Henry Nelson, MFGA’s vice chair and project lead, mark a watershed moment for the project going forward.

“Recent flood events in the Assiniboine River Basin have resulted in significant crop losses, property and infrastructure damage, leading to unprecedented Agri-Recovery claims above and beyond crop insurance,” Nelson said. “This project seeks to develop new risk management tools to reduce the impact of extreme flood or drought events for the agricultural industry within the Basin by identifying preventative measures, implementing risk prevention and mitigation activities, all with the intention of lessening the need for government disaster programming in response to such events.”

The MFGA’s Aquanty project will encompass the Assiniboine, Qu’Appelle and Souris sub-basins, as well as a more detailed drill down on the Birdtail watershed located in the upper reaches of the Assiniboine sub-basin. The project has two key objectives – (1) to develop the customized, user friendly integrated hydrologic model for the Basin, and (2) to develop a detailed model-based assessment of how perennial forages, grasslands and wetlands influence the hydrologic characteristics of the Basin under conditions ranging from flood to drought, and may play a key role in moderating/mitigating the risks of flooding and drought.

At the end of the project’s two year term, MFGA will be one of two licence holders for the final model, the other being AAFC. MFGA is currently developing a strategy that will ensure that all the key stakeholders are aware of the opportunity to access the model for their best decisions going forward.

“It is anticipated that the model could become a standardized platform for a number of different stakeholders, including multiple levels of government, research institutes, and NGOs who want to perform targeted hydrologic analyses and research across a wide range of temporal and spatial scales within the ARB,” Nelson said. “Individuals such as primary agricultural producers and/or the business sector such as the oil and gas sector, may utilize the model on a much smaller scale, right down to individual fields or properties.”

For more information, contact Duncan Morrison, MFGA executive director, at 204-770-3548 or Duncan@mfga.net.


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