I would like to take this opportunity to share with your readers some of the important issues facing our watershed, and the steps our government is taking to maintain jobs while upholding our aggressive measures to protect our lakes and streams from pollution.
Our efforts to clean up and protect our environmentally sensitive lakes can only be effective when combined with a strategy to reduce nutrients released into our environment. Phosphorous is an important fertilizer to grow crops, but excessive levels run off into rivers and cause algae blooms on our lakes.
Excessive nutrient runoff can increase the cost of water treatment for local municipalities, close beaches and harm commercial and recreational fisheries. While there has been some resistance to the strict regulations our government has put in place to protect our water, it’s worth noting that when it passed in 2011, the Save Lake Winnipeg Act was unanimously supported by all political parties as a way to address the urgent need to deal with the environmental concerns on Lake Winnipeg and other Manitoba waterways.
This ground-breaking legislation stopped the uncontrolled and rapid growth of the hog industry, a source of controllable nutrients within our borders.
Recently, porcine epidemic diarrhea and other threats have presented supply challenges to the pork industry throughout North America, resulting in calls for a major increase in hog production. Our government remains committed to working with industry to protect jobs while staying vigilant on water quality.
We are not prepared to weaken the Save Lake Winnipeg Act and allow unrestricted province-wide hog production in Manitoba at the expense of the environment. Any pilot project proposal coming forward from the hog industry to the province must demonstrate zero negative impact on water quality and include effective odour control measures.
In addition to meeting the highest standards for water protection and odour control, the industry will need to work with rural communities to determine the level of support. Our water is too important to be put at risk, and the wishes of local communities must be respected.
The hog industry is an economic driver in Manitoba and we will continue to work with producers and processors to ensure the industry is strong and environmentally sustainable for the long term.
Minister of Conservation and Water Stewardship
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 24, 2014