For the first time in nearly two decades, the Manitoba government is unveiling a new water management strategy. The announcement, made Tuesday by Premier Heather Stefanson and Environment, Climate and Parks Minister Jeff Wharton will guide future actions, decisions and investments to protect the province's water resources and ecosystems while sustainably growing the economy and communities.
"Our collective water needs are changing. Our growing communities, vibrant agriculture sector and expanding industries all depend on continued access to water," says Stefanson. "At the same time, climate change and extreme weather, such as floods and droughts, have a significant impact on water availability and security. Manitoba's new water management strategy balances environmental, social and economic needs, and creates opportunities to partner with industry, communities and all Manitobans to unlock future growth while ensuring the province remains a leader in sustainable water management."
As Manitoba's first whole-of-government water strategy since 2003, the Premier says the new water management strategy provides a comprehensive framework to conserve and protect the environment, enhance resiliency, improve water quality and availability and foster economic development opportunities. The water management strategy will help support innovative solutions, best practices and new technologies to help address the shared water needs of Manitobans.
Stefanson says water action plan for fulfilling the vision and objectives of the strategy will be developed this winter through further engagement with the public and interested stakeholders.
"We have heard from Manitobans that developing a priority-based strategy now will set the stage for thriving and resilient ecosystems, communities, and our economy," adds Wharton. "The water management strategy is the starting point for this critical work to address water security. Together, we will chart a path to meet the water needs and priorities of Manitoba's communities and economy in a way that will be resilient and sustainable for generations to come."
Focus areas within the water management strategy incorporate specific strategic objectives to guide and prioritize actions, initiatives and investments including:
- maximizing water resource potential through conservation and efficient water use;
- addressing water infrastructure challenges and opportunities;
- meeting water supply needs of current and future generations sustainably;
- protecting biodiversity and aquatic ecosystem health;
- building Manitoba's preparedness and resilience to a variable and changing climate;
- protecting the quality and quantity of groundwater;
- protecting and improving surface water quality;
- improving co-ordination of water management and governance across watersheds, basins and aquifers;
- improving data information and knowledge available on water;
- advancing Indigenous inclusion in water management; and
- enhancing engagement and participation of Manitobans in water stewardship.
The Manitoba government's new water management strategy builds on extensive input from Manitobans including the Expert Advisory Council, citizen engagement through EngageMB and stakeholder engagement administered through Enterprise Machine Intelligence and Learning Initiative (EMILI). All areas of input recognized water security as both a challenge and a competitive opportunity for communities and industry alike.