Lake Winnipeg earns dubious distinction

Lake Winnipeg has been named the Threatened Lake of the Year by the Global Nature Fund.

Nutrients in agricultural runoff and sewage discharges threaten the future of Canada’s third-largest lake by stimulating the growth of blue-green algae, the German non-profit environmental organization said.

“The largest impact on the lake has been the explosive increase in hog farming in the Red River Basin,” the organization’s website says.

Increased flooding, wetlands drainage and regulation of water levels have also had negative effects on the lake, the organization said.

The amount of phosphorus going into the lake has doubled since the mid-1990s, the citation says. Phosphorus encourages the growth of blue-green algae, which is toxic to humans and affects the balance of flora and fauna in the lake.

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It will only be possible to restore Lake Winnipeg if governments, agriculture, industry, environmental organizations and communities work together, Global Nature Fund said. Lake Winnipeg’s watershed spans four provinces and four U.S. states.

Global Nature Fund has chosen a Threatened Lake of the Year since 2004. Previously lakes in Bolivia and Peru, India, Mexico and Kenya have been among those chosen.

Global Nature Fund is a private non-profit foundation based in Radolfzell, Germany. Its stated goal is to protect the environment and it sponsors the Living Lakes Network.