The District Manager for Seine Rat River Conservation District says this part of the province still leads the way when it comes to phosphorous entering waterways. And Jodi Goerzen is trying to shake that distinction.
Goerzen has applied to the Lake Winnipeg Basin Program for $100,000 over the next four years. Goerzen explains the money would be used to partner with local municipalities to implement water retention projects in strategic locations. This would reduce nutrient loading and flooding.
According to Goerzen, one way to reduce phosphorous levels is to build water retention areas. But she says it is quite a challenge to get local landowners to buy in.
"Nobody wants water on their land," says Goerzen. "I think that goes from getting your feet wet in your backyards to getting on the field early in spring or when it's raining in summer, you are scared of losing your crops."
But Goerzen says she thinks landowners are under the wrong impression. In order to build a berm for a water retention project, Goerzen says a landowner might need to give up only 10 to 20 acres. In some cases, this could be pastureland and once the water recedes, the cows could use that land again for grazing.
The cost to construct the berm is usually paid for by Seine Rat River Conservation District. Goerzen says unless the landowner has bigger plans for the water retention area such as turning it into a feature piece or irrigation pond, they usually are not required to chip in financially.
Currently, there are about 21 of these projects within the borders of the Conservation District. Goerzen says in a perfect world they would have these strategically placed wherever there are flooding issues. That could mean a project every mile for five miles upstream.
"I really would like to see it as a common farming practice to build in resiliency to the farm because it's going to act as a drought resilience pond too," Goerzen explains.
She notes when farmers apply nutrients to their land, they are not interested in having those nutrients washed down the drain or river. Water retention projects will help keep those nutrients on the land.
Anyone interested in more information or who is willing to offer their land for a water retention project is invited to call Seine Rat River Conservation District at 1-204-326-1030.