Minnesota study identifies activities south of the border affecting the health of Lake Winnipeg

The Minnesota study noted that phosphorus from agriculture south of the border represents more than 60 percent of the nutrients that enters Lake Winnipeg each year, contributing to algal blooms on the lake. Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

March 8, 2019

By Don Norman

A study released late last month by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency took a look at environtmental issues facing the Red River basin up to the Canadian Border. The report looked at issues like climate change, drainage and land use with an eye to their effect on the river’s health and how that in turn affects driking water and recrational activities on the river.

While the study focused on issues on the American side of the border, the report did raise concerns about what nutrient levels in the river are doing to Lake Winnipeg. Under the subheading “Hurting Lake Winnipeg” the report noted, “Canada’s giant Lake Winnipeg suffers severe algae, fueled in a large part by high nutrient levels from the Red River. Based on water monitoring, Minnesota and North Dakota together send 2,600 tons of phosphorus a year to Lake Winnipeg, with roughly half coming from each state. To help the lake and honor a treaty between the U.S. and Canada, phosphorus loads need to be cut in half on both sides of the border. The two countries are implementing a plan to do that.”