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Water Stewardship Division

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Lake Friendly Accord and
the Lake Friendly Stewards Alliance

The Challenges

Excess phosphorus and nitrogen causes an increase in the frequency and severity of algal blooms in waterways.  Over the past several decades, significant increases in phosphorus and nitrogen loading to waters have been documented across North America including in Lake Winnipeg.

Algal blooms are an important issue in lakes, rivers and streams across the Lake Winnipeg basin which stretches across a million square kilometers through Canada and the United States including parts of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana and Manitoba.  Algal blooms can:

  • cause taste and odour problems in drinking water;
  • make shorelines and beaches unsuitable for swimming and other recreation;
  • impair ecosystem health by negatively impacting aquatic life and habitat including for fish;
  • impact commercial and recreational fishing potential; and
  • produce toxins that can be dangerous to people, livestock, and pets.

Phosphorus and nitrogen are contributed by virtually all of our activities including point sources such as wastewater and non-point source runoff such as from agriculture, golf courses and urban and cottage areas.  In addition, trends such as the loss of wetlands and riparian areas, and increased drainage, have increased the movement of phosphorus and nitrogen from land to water.