A spokesperson for the Seine Rat Roseau Watershed District says funding announced earlier this year has been a game changer.

The District has received $875,000 as one of the first recipients of funds from the Conservation and Growing Outcomes in Watersheds (GROW) Trusts, a new and innovative source of conservation funding in Manitoba.

bitat Heritage Corporation through interest revenue from provincial endowment funds held with The Winnipeg Foundation. From 2018 to 2020, Manitoba made investments totaling $204 million in three trusts; the Conservation and GROW Trusts and the new Wetlands GROW Trust.

According to the Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation, families vacationing near Lake Winnipeg this year have noticed the Lake's deteriorating health more than ever. To support the health of watersheds like Lake Winnipeg, up to $8.6 million is available this year to nonprofit groups like the Seine Rat Roseau Watershed District.

"The Lake Winnipeg issue comes from urban, rural and natural landscapes and requires solutions from all three areas," Goerzen points out. "Clean water is our best investment. By working together, we want to ensure a bright future for Manitoba."

The District is working with farmers upstream from Winnipeg to build earthen berms and develop projects that work with the natural landscape, or natural infrastructure, to hold water on the land. This reduces flooding downstream and can also increase the water quality coming off farms before it discharges into the Red River watershed and ultimately into Lake Winnipeg.

Goerzen says so far they have about 32 landowners signed up, with more than $150,000 secured in annual payments to those producers.

"That's quite a huge success for us," she admits. "We actually thought it would be harder to spend this money."

Goerzen says this funding can help compensate farmers whose low lying land is consistently flooding. By getting that farmer to change it into grassland, Goerzen says the District will essentially pay the farmer for doing that.

To date, the Trusts have granted $9.6 million to 84 projects that support conservation activities like wetland restoration, tree and grassland plantings, soil improvement and wildlife habitat enhancement across Manitoba's working landscapes. According to the Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation, over time, these activities will increase resilience to the impacts of climate change by reducing flooding, improving water quality, sequestering carbon, restoring soil health and enhancing wildlife habitat.