The Seine Rat Roseau Watershed District (SRRWD) will finally be able to fully connect with other watershed districts in southeastern Manitoba, once approval of adding one more municipality is finalized.
Steinbach SRRWD Office Manager, Joey Pankiw says they received a notice from the province back in mid-July that the RM of Morris wanted to join their watershed district.
When asked, how will having the RM of Morris as part of the SRRWD benefit their watershed, Pankiw notes,
“It completes the district. After the approvals from the RM of Morris’s 16 neighboring municipalities are in, we will have all the RM’s within our area involved in the SRRWD. The RM of Morris was the last one. So, now we can work throughout the whole region.”
Pankiw notes the main reason for the request was that farmers and landowners in that area (RM of Morris) wanted access to the SRRWD programming, in particular, funds from the Prairie Watershed Climate Program (PWCP), which he says are in high demand across the province. However, in order to access the program, the municipality needs to be in a watershed district.
“I think they've (RM of Morris) had a lot of their landowners and from across the river in the Redboine and Pembina Valley municipalities saying, “Why aren't we part of the watershed district, and why can’t we access these program programs?” Yeah, so I think that's been the real catalyst for this request.”
Pankiw says farmers will definitely see the benefits of being a part of the watershed's agricultural programming. He lists examples of some.
“So, as part of the PWCP, farmers have access to our Nitrogen Management Program. The Federal Government is trying to offset emissions from fertilizers by doing better land-management practices, like putting inhibitors with urease and nitrogen, so they don't emit nitrous oxide and placing it better in the ground. Also, by encouraging equipment upgrades and adding legumes, which actually are a fixator of nitrogen to the ground.”
Pankiw says they have also done and continue to do a lot of work transitioning flood prone areas from cultivated land to perennial grasses, especially along rivers and creeks and in the southeast.
As well, he says the benefits are not just for RM of Morris landowners,
“What we find is that even though we might not do a project in your RM, the benefits to the community tend to work back to everybody else. I know, I would do a lot of work up upstream and while that work really benefits them, once you get into downstream areas, those benefits get reciprocated down the stream.”
And just how close to closing the deal, and getting approval from all 16 municipalities around the RM of Morris? Pankiw says,
“We're very close. I think the deadline is the end of October, so I'll know better after that. Once all the paperwork is in, which might not be until end of spring next year, we'll get the full go-ahead to start working in the RM of Morris.”
Pankiw notes so far, he's heard nothing negative from the adjoining municipalities. “I think we’ve presented to all the RM's. They are our partners, and they see the value that they get, and the value of our work, and we're always open to working with them, so they know what we do.”
Pankiw says, once the RM of Morris has been approved to join the SRRWD, all the RM’s in the southeast will be under one umbrella and landowners and farmers won’t be questioning where the watershed district boundaries are.
“We’ll be able to say, if someone lives on the other side of the river in Morris, they should call the Redboine Watershed District, or the Pembina Valley Watershed District. So yeah, it's nice to have everybody around us now part of the watershed program.”
Pankiw notes that the RM of Morris has also applied to join the Redboine and Pembina Valley Watershed Districts. In total last year, there were 10 municipalities in Manitoba joining a watershed district, which he is very excited about.
“So, we're getting pretty close to having everybody under a provincial watershed umbrella.”
Pankiw says, there are 14 watershed districts throughout the whole province and they each take care of a certain number of watersheds, which covers the entire agricultural area of Manitoba.
"The goal is to protect our water throughout the whole province. So, I would like to see every RM in the province, in the agricultural area, join so that we have the ability to do these projects from anywhere in Manitoba.”
The RM of Morris is located 67km east of Steinbach, with several major routes going through it, Hwy 75 and PTH 23. Communities/ towns that make up the RM include, Rosenort, Lowe Farm, and the town of Morris.
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