Composting Toilets at Tourond Creek Discovery Centre June 8th, 2018

The Tourond Creek Discovery Centre (TCDC) is a unique public destination and outdoor learning environment located along Highway #52 near Kleefeld. Walking trails throughout the centre connect five distinct habitats to a viewing dock, lookout tower, and picnic shelter. School groups and outdoor enthusiasts visit the TCDC to explore nature in this naturalized space. It is also a convenient park-and-ride-sharing hub for local area commuters. The Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD) recognized an opportunity to accommodate TCDC visitors by installing composting toilet facilities.

The TCDC features two composting toilet facilities for public use. A waterless alternative to conventional systems is needed since running water is unavailable at this former waste disposal site. Composting toilets use natural processes to decompose human waste within a controlled environment. Over 90% of the waste entering the composting chamber is made up of water, which is evaporated through the toilet’s ventilation system. A scoop of carbon material, such as sawdust, dried leaves, or straw is added to the composting chamber after each use. The carbon binds with the nitrogen found in liquid and solid human waste to eliminate odor as well as to form the main nutrients found in compost. A balance of oxygen, moisture, heat, and organic material provides a rich environment for oxygen-loving bacteria to decompose the solid waste material. The composting chamber is manually stirred with a built-in agitator. A raking mechanism is manually operated to separate finished compost into a tray for removal. Composting toilets are a great option for places where septic and water systems are unavailable or cost-prohibitive.

The SRRCD installed two different composting toilet systems by Envriolet (www.envirolet.ca), including the Envirolet Waterless Self-Contained system and Waterless Remote system.

The Envirolet Waterless Self-Contained unit was installed in the ground-level washroom to accommodate easy accessibly for all mobility types. This unit has a full-time capacity of four persons and a vacation capacity of six persons. The toilet and composting chamber are both incorporated into this stand-alone unit, which is ideal for remote or isolated locations.

The Envirolet Waterless Remote system was installed in the elevated washroom and is designed to demonstrate what a composting system looks like in a home or cottage. The composting chamber is housed below the floor directly under the toilet. It has a larger full-time capacity of six persons and a vacation capacity of eight persons. The unit can be installed in the basement or on the ground outside.

Each washroom is mounted with a solar panel and battery system to power an electric ventilation fan in both the self-contained and remote systems. The small fan built into the unit circulates oxygen throughout the composting chamber while a small ventilation turbine draws odor and evaporated material into the atmosphere. The TCDC is a very windy site and the ventilation turbine draws nearly all odor from the composting chamber. The battery system is subsequently rarely used.

The SRRCD maintains and operates composting toilet facilities at TCDC throughout the spring and summer months between the snow melt and first snowfall. Daily use of the toilets at TCDC is much lower than their capacity since toilet use is largely related to event bookings. The TCDC hosted 17 groups events in 2017, not including visitors from the general public. There have been minimal problems with exceeded capacity since SRRCD staff regularly monitor the status of the toilet systems. The units are able to handle single-ply toilet paper and carbon additives, like saw dust after each use. The SRRCD stocks foam hand sanitizers in each washroom for personal hygiene. The composting facilities at TCDC are compliant with provincial regulations for composting toilets and health and safety standards for their use.

Our biggest challenge in maintaining composting toilets for public use is teaching people how to use them. Some of the problems we have experienced are associated with using more sawdust than necessary after each use, or leaving the composting chamber exposed by forgetting to close the toilet lid. We made a few adjustments by posting clearly marked operating instructions in the washroom. Our staff cleans the exterior of the toilet with household disinfectant. Caution must be taken to avoid spilling cleaning solution into the composting chamber since microbial activity inside the toilet should remain undisturbed.

Finished compost is removed from the tray about two times throughout the operational season. Compost derived from human waste is not safe for food production. The SRRCD buries finished compost in a designated area away from the site. The effectiveness of composting toilets at degrading pharmaceutical compounds and residues is unknown and users should consider the risk of pathogens found in composted human waste. Composted human waste should not be used in any edible produce gardens.

The composting toilet systems at TCDC provide an effective waterless alternative to conventional systems. They are easy to maintain and odor-free when following the manufacturer’s recommendations on daily use. There are a variety of composting toilet brands available for different applications. We can answer your questions about the construction, installation, and operation of our composting toilet facilities. Come by the Tourond Creek Discovery Centre and try one out today!

 

Seine-Rat River Conservation District

154 Friesen Avenue

Steinbach, MB

(204) 326-1030

info@srrcd.ca

www.srrcd.ca

 

 

 

Project Spotlight: Marynowski Alternative Watering System and Exclusion Fencing Project March 23rd, 2018

The Marynowski family is farming a legacy of sustainability. In 2017, the Marynowski family partnered with Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD) to implement a year-round solar powered alternative watering system and exclusion fencing project for their 150 beef cattle operation. Alternative watering systems use solar panels, wind turbines, or a combination of both to power a pumping system for providing safe and reliable drinking water to livestock from a nearby source. Alternative watering systems can improve water quality and reduce streambank erosion by controlling livestock access to surface water, like dugouts, rivers, and streams. Exclusion fencing around dugouts and waterways reduce the risk of herd health problems relating to direct watering, like fluke worm, foot rot, and other water borne diseases. Exclusion fencing can also prevent injury or death caused by livestock falling through ice or getting stuck, drowning, or suffocating in muddy rivers and ponds.

The Marynowski Alternative Watering System replaced a dugout, which had served as a watering hole for their summer grazing and overwintering pasture site. The family drilled a deep well at their own expense to mitigate potential problems in drought years when dugouts tend to dry out.

A 24 volt centric pump located in the well is powered by two (2) 160 watt solar panels hooked up to four (4) deep cycle batteries. The system allows the pump to run off of solar energy while excess energy is stored in the batteries for later use at night or on overcast days. The advantage of solar powered systems is that they can be used in areas where electric power lines are unavailable or too expensive to set up. Solar powered systems also replace the need for generators because they are able to run during electric power blackouts. The well head, batteries, and system controls are sheltered in a small shed. This sheltered structure makes it easy to access the system for monitoring and maintenance, especially during inclement weather. The solar panels and motion eye sensor, which activates the pump when cattle approach the trough, are securely mounted high up on the shed to protect the expensive components against damage from livestock and curious wildlife. A new system feature allows an option for producers to use a smartphone app for remotely monitoring system parameters, such as pumping rate and volume. The subscription-based app costs a few dollars a month and requires an area with cell reception to send producers system status notifications.

The Marynowski family also implemented an exclusion fencing project around their dugout. The fencing extends past their dugout and encloses an area which also functions as a bale storage area. This unique multi-purpose space improves on-farm management by keeping bales close at hand and out of livestock reach. The fenced-off area simultaneously acts as a buffer to reduce the likelihood of water contamination caused by manure being washed into the dugout during the spring runoff and after heavy rainfall events.

The projects implemented by the SRRCD are initiated at the local level by people whose livelihoods are deeply connected to the landscape. These innovative projects are custom designed to benefit the unique needs of each farm and to improve the health of our watershed. The SRRCD funded the total project cost of $9,300 for the Marynowski Alternative Watering system and Exclusion Fencing Project:

 

Item Cost
Solar System $6,200
Shed $850
Batteries $700
Delivery $150
Installation $600
Excavation $700
Fencing materials $100 *
Project Total $9,300
SRRCD Cost $4,675
Landowner cost $4,625

*Funded at 75% of cost, remainder of items funded at 50% cost

Looking Ahead: Lessons Learned

The Marynowski Alternative Watering System has been running at full capacity this winter. The watering trough where the cattle drink has been accessible throughout the winter months and there have been no problems with the trough freezing over. The Marynowski family will be adding a wind turbine to the system to supplement the solar panels. The system can run effectively for up to five (5) consecutive days during overcast and cold winter days. Installing more solar panels requires the addition of more batteries to increase energy storage capacity. The option to add a wind turbine provides a secondary battery recharge mechanism during overcast conditions to ensure that the system will operate most effectively 365 days a year.

The success of these riparian livestock management projects have spread throughout the district. The SRRCD is looking forward to implementing more projects with local producers throughout our watershed.

The SRRCD provides funding for riparian livestock management projects, including:

  • Alternative watering (river, creeks), 75% SRRCD contribution up to $7,500
  • NOTE: The SRRCD does not cover the cost of well drilling.
  • Riparian fencing (rivers, creeks), 75% SRRCD contribution up to $4,000
  • Livestock crossing improvement, 75% SRRCD contribution up to $1,000
  • Alternative watering (dugouts), 50% SRRCD contribution up to $5,000
  • NOTE: The SRRCD does not cover the cost of well drilling.
  • Exclusion fencing (dugouts), 75% SRRCD contribution up to $1,000
  • Grant writing to help you cover 100% of qualifying projects

The SRRCD encourages producers to apply as soon as possible for available funding by contacting our Steinbach office at (204) 326-1030, or our Vita office at (204) 425-7877. You can also visit us online at www.srrcd.ca to download your applications today.

 

Farming for the Future: Young Farmers at Work in Roseau River Watershed February 16th, 2018

Livestock producers in the Roseau River watershed are farming for the future in partnership with Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD). They are innovative young families enhancing their farming operations with environmentally sustainable livestock management initiatives, like alternative watering systems, exclusion fencing, and livestock crossings.

Alternative watering systems provide livestock with a safe, clean, and reliable source of drinking water. They use a solar or wind powered pump to draw water from nearby water sources. These systems are used to restrict livestock access to surface water, such as dugouts, rivers, and streams. Fencing off dugouts and waterways can reduce the risk of herd health problems relating to direct watering, like fluke worm, foot rot, and other water borne diseases. Exclusion fencing can also prevent injury or death caused by livestock falling through ice or getting stuck, drowning, or suffocating in muddy rivers and ponds. Livestock crossings allow cattle to safely cross waterways without disturbing the natural flow of water or the vegetated area along waterways known as riparian zones. Riparian livestock management protects waterways from erosion, sedimentation, and loss of riparian vegetation from constant grazing. Programs for establishing alternative watering systems, exclusion fencing, and livestock crossings prevent cattle from drinking water contaminated with manure. They also reduce nutrients, like phosphorus and nitrogen, flowing downstream into Lake Winnipeg.

Livestock producers in the Roseau River watershed are looking for sustainable ways to keep the farm in the family. They are recognizing opportunities for lowering the cost of production by reducing risks to herd health and improving water quality for future generations. Local farmers working in partnership with the SRRCD implemented several riparian livestock management programs in the Roseau River watershed. The projects implemented by the SRRCD are initiated at the local level by people whose livelihoods are deeply connected to the landscape. These innovate projects are custom designed to benefit the unique needs of each farm and to improve the health of our watershed.

The Marynowski family installed a fencing enclosure to limit livestock access to their dugout area. The enclosure also includes additional room for bale storage. The family drilled a well at their own expense to provide a reliable drinking water source to their 150 cattle during the winter and summer months. This alternative watering system draws water from the well using a solar powered pump. The system also has an option for allowing the farmer to use a smartphone app for remotely monitoring parameters, like pump output.

The Schubert exclusion fencing project was implemented to keep cattle out of a flood-prone riparian area, which regularly overflowed water beyond the existing fence line. The Schuberts drilled a well, at their own expense, on a nearby ridge and moved the herd’s watering area to higher ground. The family is now looking into upgrading their existing solar watering system by incorporating a wind turbine to better accommodate overcast weather conditions.

The Barnabe family from Woodmore implemented an alternative watering system for their expanding livestock operation with 220 head of cattle. The system draws water from a nearby gravel pit during the winter and summer months.

The Chubaty alternative watering system near Ridgeville is an all-season project, which provides safe and reliable access to 150 calf/cow pairs and is the second project undertaken by the Chubaty family in the last five (5) years.

The Abrams solar winter watering system and exclusion fencing project currently accommodates 30-40 head of cattle. The family is looking to expand their livestock operation as part of a larger farm improvement plan.

The Boileau family incorporated numerous on-farm improvements to their 140 calf/cow pair farming operation. The Boileau’s installed exclusion fencing on three (3) dugouts and implemented a well head remediation project to improve the conditions of the existing well structure.

The success of these riparian livestock management projects have spread throughout the district by word-of-mouth advertising. The SRRCD is looking forward to implementing more projects with local producers throughout our watershed.

The SRRCD provides funding for riparian livestock management projects, including:

  • Alternative watering (waterway protection), 75% SRRCD contribution up to $7,500
  • Riparian fencing (waterway protection), 75% SRRCD contribution up to $4,000
  • Livestock crossing improvement, 75% SRRCD contribution up to $1,000
  • Alternative watering (groundwater protection), 50% SRRCD contribution up to $5,000
  • Exclusion fencing (groundwater protection), 75% SRRCD contribution up to $1,000
  • Grant writing to help you cover 100% of qualifying projects

The SRRCD encourages producers to apply as soon as possible for available funding. The SRRCD is available at our Steinbach office by telephone at (204) 326-1030, or in Vita at (204) 425-7877. You can also visit us online at www.srrcd.ca to download your applications today.

Bringing Outdoor Learning to Life at Tourond Creek Discovery Centre November 21st, 2017

Educators across the Southeast are going outside with their students to make real world connections to classroom learning. Barret Miller, Special Programs Interpreter at Fort Whyte Alive, spends much of his time exploring the outdoors with students and educators across Manitoba. He is part of a movement of community organizations, including FortWhyte Alive, South Central Eco Institute, Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD), and Tourond Creek Discovery Centre (TCDC) that are partnering with Hanover School Division to promote opportunities for outdoor education. Teachers are keen to learn about using outdoor environments to make linkages with the school curriculum.

Barret specializes in helping educators make the most of outdoor learning opportunities. He tells a story about an experience he had while taking a group of students on a field trip to a nearby park. The group of students barely hiked 20 metres before becoming enthralled by a bluff of trees. Barret says the excited group spent over an hour exploring the bluff and discovering its wonders of life. The little bluff offered so many opportunities for teaching ecology that the group hardly had time for the rest of the hike.

Community organizations, like FortWhyte Alive, South Central Eco Institute, SRRCD, and TCDC make the most of experiential learning opportunities in the great outdoors.

Kent Lewarne runs the Riverwatch program at South Central Eco Institute. Riverwatch is a program linking the classroom study of chemistry, the nitrogen cycle, and environmental issues to real world understanding of watershed health pertaining to Lake Winnipeg. Students involved in all aspects of water quality testing help collect and analyze water samples and learn about what the results mean for our watershed.

Dorthea Grégoire at SRRCD runs the Backwater Buggin’ program. The program focuses on community ecology, biological diversity, and the importance of insect communities in monitoring ecosystem and waterway health. Students participating in Backwater Buggin’ gain hands-on experience by collecting and analyzing bug samples to learn more about the health of our rivers and streams and the different types of insect communities that live in our waterways.

The expertise of these community organizations empower educators to bring environmental education to life at places such as the Tourond Creek Discovery Centre. The TCDC is a public space and natural environment in the RM of Hanover. It is visited by families, nature-lovers, and school groups in the Southeast. Visitors come to the TCDC to discover the diversity of plant and animal life unique to the five distinct micro-ecosystems at the centre. Students and educators using the site as an outdoor classroom experience our connectedness to nature by encountering the natural systems vital to our sustainability.

Kathryn Labiuk is one of four teachers at Steinbach Regional Secondary School who took advantage of outdoor learning opportunities at TCDC during the school’s innovation week. Kathryn says, “The Tourond Creek Discovery Centre is a great local option for allowing students to encounter the outdoors with a fresh perspective. The space provides opportunities for students to engage in cross-curricular learning in an environment that encourages group interactions.”

Educators, like Kathryn, are taking the lead on outdoor education by making real world connections to the school curriculum at TCDC. The outdoor learning potential at TCDC provides endless possibilities for experiential learning.

You can call or email the SRRCD for more information about the programs we offer or to book your TCDC visit. Visit us online at www.srrcd.ca, or at www.tourondcreekdiscovery.ca.

 

 

Celebrating 12 Years: The SRRCD is here to Stay August 17th, 2017

The Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD) is celebrating an important watershed moment on August 24, 2017.

The SRRCD was officially awarded the Order in Council from the Province on Manitoba on August 24, 2005. Today, the SRRCD is comprised of 16 municipalities, over 7,000 square kilometers in southeast Manitoba, and a population of approximately 70,000 people. The people we work with are passionate about making a difference. They are farmers, local experts, innovators, and community leaders collaborating on watershed initiatives throughout our district.

The programs we deliver are built from the ground-up at the local level. An Integrated Watershed Management Plan is a cooperative community-driven planning document used to identify land and water-related issues and actions to achieve goals for key priority areas, including source water protection, surface water management, water quality protection, and riparian and aquatic ecosystem management. The SRRCD has developed IWMPs for the Seine River and Rat River watersheds, and a third plan is underway for the Roseau River watershed. We work closely with our partners and local communities to meet the goals identified in our plans.

The SRRCD works diligently to protect and conserve the quality and quantity of groundwater in our watershed. We have sealed 269 abandoned wells in our district and tested 4,515 private wells for the presence of coliform and E. coli bacteria. We have also transported over 1,000 private well water samples to the lab in Winnipeg on behalf of local residents on our RM Private Well Water Testing Days. Groundwater is the primary water supply for domestic, municipal, commercial, and agricultural purposes in our area. Protecting and conserving water quality is vitally important for watershed residents and the ecological health of our watershed.

The SRRCD has also completed 19 water retention structures and over 25 water retention studies and surveys throughout our district. Naturalized water retentions utilize the ecological functions of wetlands to slow high water flows, reduce surface water runoff from urban and semi-urban areas, and mitigate the effects of downstream flooding. The De Salaberry Crown Lands & Skyline Dairy Water Retention project is the largest water retention project implemented by the SRRCD and holds 376 acre feet of water. It is also among the first retention projects in Manitoba constructed on agriculturally leased Crown Land. We are always looking for opportunities to implement innovative sustainable surface water management solutions in the Southeast.

Our rain garden program is also a unique surface water management strategy for urban areas. We have implemented six (6) rain gardens in our watershed with plans for two (2) more as this program is quickly gaining momentum in urban areas. A rain garden is a bowl-shaped perennial garden that captures surface water runoff. They are typically planted in residential areas where water flows off roofs, streets, sidewalks, driveways, sump pump discharge areas, and parking lots. Surface water runoff that is unable to infiltrate into the soil may be directed into the street and can subsequently overwhelm drainage infrastructure. The perennial plants in the rain garden take up nutrients and clean the water as it absorbs into the soil. Rain gardens also create habitat for birds, bees, butterflies, and other wildlife. They are also an innovative sustainable surface water management strategy for reducing water runoff at the property and neighbourhood scale.

The SRRCD was awarded Lake Winnipeg Foundation’s 2016 Alexander Bajkov Award for supporting best management practices in rural Manitoba, and as an active participant in LWF’s community-based monitoring program. We operate 20 surface water quality monitoring sites in partnership with the Lake Winnipeg Foundation (LWF) Community-Based Monitoring Network. Regular water quality testing in our waterways gives us a better understanding of where nutrients are coming from and how much phosphorus is leaving our watershed for Lake Winnipeg. We use our water quality data to help us identify what we can do to target our programs at the watershed scale for the benefit of our local environment, including riparian areas along our waterways.

The SRRCD has implemented 26 riparian livestock management projects in our district. Each project we implement on the ground at the grassroots level are custom designed in partnership with local watershed residents. Our riparian livestock management programs benefit farming operations and the local area. Riparian areas refer to vegetated areas along streams, rivers, lakes, and wetlands. The Mateychuk Winter Watering System is designed to provide a safe and reliable water source to livestock. It uses a solar powered pump to draw water from a nearby dugout. The system has already weathered several winters of use and numerous extreme cold weather events. It is a great way to limit livestock access to surface water, like rivers, streams, and dugouts. Limiting livestock access to waterways also reduces the high cost and risk of exposing livestock to herd health problems, such as water-transmitted diseases, foot rot, leg injuries, and death from cattle falling through the dugout ice while trying to access the water.

We have also planted over 8,000 trees to date, including willows, oak, maple, poplar, aspen, and dogwood. Our riparian tree planting programs are geared towards reducing stream bank erosion and establishing tree buffers. The SRRCD is committed to programs that enhance the ecological health of our riparian areas and we look forward to planting many more trees in the years to come.

Our story began with a bold vision for sustainable integrated watershed management. The SRRCD is here to stay as we continue to seek innovative new ways of engaging our watershed residents and utilizing expert local knowledge to meet the unique needs of our landscape. We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Province of Manitoba and our municipal partners as we celebrate 12 years together in the Southeast.

You can visit our website at srrcd.ca for more information about what we do and to see an inventory of what we’ve accomplished. We can be reached in Steinbach at (204) 326-1030 or in Vita at (204) 425-7877.

 

SRRCD La Broquerie Office has Moved to 154 Friesen Avenue in Steinbach July 11th, 2017

The Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD) is now open for business – in Steinbach! Our new head office location in Steinbach features plenty of homey space. That’s because we’ve converted a house into a fully functional modern office.

We are now located at the corner of Friesen Avenue and Brandt Street in the heart of Steinbach’s downtown central business district. This 1,328 square foot house with four offices, two bathrooms, multi-purpose meeting space, and a double car garage is an ideal fit for the needs of our growing district. Our main floor was redesigned to host our regular Board and Sub-Watershed District Committee meetings. The remodeled entrance features a warm welcome area with informational resources for visitors. There is also plenty of room in the finished basement to set up additional workstations, as well as to host district-related training seminars and events. Our two car garage doubles as a workshop for building and maintaining district projects on-site.

The SRRCD is excited to establish an urban presence in a convenient new location central to our district. We look forward to demonstrating the effectiveness of urban storm water management with future plans for developing a rain garden right here in our own backyard. Our exciting move enables opportunities for our district to establish new networks and connections as we collaborate on watershed initiatives among friends and partners around our homestyle “kitchen” table.

The SRRCD was pleased and proud to receive approval in April from the Province and all our 16 municipal partners to proceed with the purchase of 154 Friesen Avenue. Thank you for all your support in making this move possible.

Come on by to take a tour, pick up a program application, or to find out more about your watershed. We’ll put the coffee on!

 

Seine-Rat River Conservation District

154 Friesen Avenue

Steinbach, MB, R5G 0T5

(204) 326-1030

info@srrcd.ca

www.srrcd.ca

 

Our Vita field office is open for business as always. You can visit our field office in Vita at 108 Main Street North. We can also be reached in Vita by telephone at (204) 425-7877.

 

Municipal Partners of the SRRCD:

RM of La Broquerie

RM of Ste. Anne

Town of Ste. Anne

RM of Reynolds

RM of Stuartburn

RM of Hanover

City of Steinbach

RM of Taché

RM of Springfield

RM of Ritchot

RM of De Salaberry

Village of St-Pierre-Jolys

RM of Montcalm

RM of Emerson-Franklin

Town of Niverville

RM of Piney

Community-Based Monitoring Results Give Meaning to Our Story: Water Monitoring Results Story Map June 2nd, 2017

Click here to view our story map.

Citizen scientists around Manitoba are working together with Lake Winnipeg Foundation (LWF) to tell an important story about the health of our watershed. Manitoba’s community-based monitoring network is made up of volunteers collaborating on a grassroots initiative to better understand phosphorus loading in Lake Winnipeg. Local volunteers, school groups, and conservation districts are using their citizen scientist training to collect water quality data at sample sites throughout the Red River watershed. The goal of this project is to measure phosphorus concentrations and water flow data to identify where nutrients are coming from and how much phosphorus is leaving our watershed for Lake Winnipeg.

The Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD) partnered with LWF in 2016 to conduct regular water quality monitoring at six sample sites in the Seine River watershed. The results of this pilot-study inform how human activity affects our watershed and what we can do to better improve our programs for the benefit of our local environment. An interactive story map produced by the SRRCD and LWF gives meaning to the water quality data collected by volunteer citizen scientists in Manitoba.

A story map is a unique tool for viewing spatial areas using text, photos, and engaging graphics. Story maps are ideal for presenting spatial data in a non-technical way. The results of the 2016 LWF community-based water quality monitoring in the Seine River watershed show that a wide range of phosphorus concentrations vary between sub-watersheds. The story map shows that the amount of phosphorus leaving our watershed for Lake Winnipeg, called the export coefficient, is higher in areas with greater human activity. This narrative, however, is one part of a much bigger story. Phosphorus movement is also affected by natural functions, such as vegetation and soil type. That’s because different plant species and soil types store and release phosphorus in different ways. This means that the export coefficient varies from year to year in response to local environmental conditions, such as overland flooding, soil type, vegetation, and human activity. The story map produced by SRRCD and LWF tells the story of how human and natural interactions function within our watershed and where our phosphorus hotspots are located. We look forward to providing you with more detailed information about water results from each of our watersheds. Stayed tuned in the coming months for water quality testing results conducted in-house by the SRRCD.

You can engage with this narrative by interacting with our story map by clicking here, or by visiting our website at www.srrcd.ca. This story map can be viewed by scrolling through the text; zooming in and out of the maps; and by clicking on map features for more information about sample sites and water quality results.

Our head office and phone number has changed. We can be reached at:

We are always looking for volunteer citizen scientists to participate in community-based monitoring as we expand this program throughout our whole district. Contact the SRRCD at info@srrcd.ca for more information about becoming a part of our story!

Seine-Rat River Conservation District

Head Office

154 Friesen Avenue, Steinbach, MB, R5G 0T5

(204) 326-1030

Urban Surface Water Management Solutions April 28th, 2017

Surging surface water runoff and ice-plugged culverts resulting in localized urban flooding frustrated local governments and residents over this year’s spring melt. Water flowing over the concrete landscape of the urban environment also inundated local drainage networks and contributed to rising water levels in response to this year’s unusual rapid melting and freezing temperatures. Heavy equipment urgently worked to clear ice from culverts and ditches as water back flooded over roads and streets of the impervious urban landscape.

The concrete sea of the urban landscape is a vast impermeable surface contributing to massive flows of water runoff. Water that is unable to soak into the ground will quickly flow over asphalt parking lots, roads, rooftops, driveways, sidewalks, and residential streets into the local drainage network and low-lying areas. The amount of impervious surface within a watershed determines how great the change in runoff will be. Surface water runoff will double in areas with 10-20% impervious surface cover and triple in areas with 30-50% impervious surface cover. The majority of all surface water will result in runoff in urban areas with 75-100% impervious surface cover. This means that the process of urbanization dramatically increases surface water runoff because water is prevented from soaking into the soil.

The increasing frequency and severity of short-duration, high precipitation events are also challenging the way we think about sustainable urban surface water management strategies. Today, we are seeing more severe precipitation events in the amount of rain that falls in a storm – even though annual precipitation events are staying the same. This means that multi-day storms are increasing in frequency and extreme precipitation events are becoming more severe and damaging.

The conventional approach to urban surface water management has been to direct runoff into the urban drainage network. While this approach has been successful at removing water from roads and streams, it has contributed to greater stream bank erosion and sediment transport. Urban streams have subsequently been channelized with concrete to push water through the system more efficiently, resulting in increased downstream flooding in the lowland portions of the watershed. The shift away from conventional urban surface water management practices to more innovative and sustainable approaches are essential for mitigating flood risk and building more resilient communities.

Permeable Paving

Permeable paving is a broad term used to describe a diverse range of pavement technologies that allow water to seep through the surface material into a base layer for on-site water infiltration and filtration. Porous paving allows water to move through the surface material while permeable paving directs water around impervious brick pavers and into aggregate material in the joints between pavers.

These innovative paving methods can be utilized for roads, paths, driveways, parking lots, sidewalks, and other surfaces that are subject to light vehicular traffic. They are becoming increasingly popular for reducing runoff in urban centres because they maintain the functionality of a stable, load-bearing surface. Permeable paving systems utilize a wide variety of technologies for increasing soil infiltration capacity, including pervious concrete; porous asphalt; plastic grids; permeable interlocking concrete pavers; and resin bound paving made of recycled materials, such as glass, plastic, and rubber. Permeable paving is an effective strategy for low impact development at the neighbourhood scale. This strategy may be incorporated with innovations at the property scale to further enhance the utility of sustainable surface water management initiatives in urban areas.

Rain Gardens and Bioswales

Rain gardens and bioswales are vegetated with native plant species and are designed to capture and store surface water runoff from impervious surfaces. A rain garden is a bowl-shaped perennial garden planted near drain spouts and sump pump outlets to capture runoff from roofs and low-lying areas. Bioswales are linear systems designed to manage greater volumes of runoff from parking lots or roadways. The size of a rain garden or bioswale is designed according to the impervious surface area where water will be directed into the system. The larger the impervious surface area – the bigger the size of rain garden or bioswale.

Rain garden and bioswale systems provide important environmental benefits at the property scale. They improve water quality as surface water filters into the ground. Nutrients in the water are then taken up by native plant species vegetated in the system. These naturalized surface water management systems also create habitat for birds, bees, butterflies, and other wildlife; they reduce downstream flooding; and beautify residential neighbourhoods.

The Seine-Rat River Conservation District can help you design and create your own rain garden project. We provide funding up to $500 for individual projects, or 50% up to $5,000 for projects located in public spaces. We would be pleased to present on our expanded urban rain garden program at your next community organization meeting.

Naturalized Storm Water Retentions

Naturalized urban storm water retentions are aesthetically pleasing urban design features, which utilize the ecological functions of wetlands to slow high water flows; reduce surface water runoff from urban and semi-urban areas; and mitigate the effects of downstream flooding. Naturalized wetlands improve water quality as they are vegetated with water loving native plant species. Native plant species contribute to a greater biodiversity in the local area, as well as provide natural habitat to a variety of waterfowl and amphibian species. The native plant species of naturalized systems also provide goose deterrence and management by limiting goose access from the water to grazing areas. Native plant root systems penetrate deep into the ground and clean the water as they absorb nutrients, degrade pesticides, retain sediments, and reduce pathogens as water infiltrates back into the soil for groundwater recharge.

Naturalized urban storm water retentions are a cost-effective alternative to conventional retentions because less soil is removed from a site; rock or soil does not need to be imported to a site; construction time is reduced; basin construction can occur during slower times of the year; maintenance of surrounding native grass uplands is a fraction of the cost of maintaining sod; and there is no maintenance required to remove or manage unwanted algal blooms or submersed vegetation. Conventional ponds require long-term algae management because they are susceptible to algal blooms as nutrients slowly build up in the system. Naturalized storm water retentions mitigate flooding risk in urban areas by utilizing the natural ecological functions of wetlands to reduce peak waters flows for sustainable surface water management in urban areas.

Changes in land use and climate show that conventional urban surface water management strategies must be adapted at the property, neighbourhood, and watershed scale in order to mitigate flooding risk resulting from population growth and development. Innovative next-generation technologies and methods, like permeable surfaces, rain gardens, and naturalized storm water retentions are intrinsic to the sustainability of urban surface water management strategies.

Visit our website at srrcd.ca for more information about sustainable urban surface water management solutions, including permeable paving, naturalized retentions, and rain gardens.

Frog Pond a Ribbeting Success March 14th, 2017

Each year, eager frog lovers seek out the most ambitious amphibians worthy of competing at the St-Pierre Frog Follies National Frog Jumping Championship. This popular event involves safely catching and releasing frogs from the local area. Contest participants register their chosen contenders in the frog jumping tournament to champion the frog with the furthest hop!

 

The Frog Follies annual community festival in the Village of St-Pierre-Jolys has grown leaps and bounds since it was first inaugurated in 1970 by Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles. This unique festival celebrating francophone heritage inspired the development of a brand new naturalized amphibian habitat at Parc Carillon community park.

 

In 2016, the Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD) entered into a cost-share partnership with the Parc Carillon Committee to transform the existing one acre pond into a natural wetland ecosystem and frog spawning habitat. Soil removed from the pond excavation was used to create landscaped mounds as observation areas. They provide suitable frog habitat for protective cover during the day, as well as hibernation habitat during cold winter months.

 

Native plant species in the wetland environment are being planted to contribute to greater biodiversity in the local environment, as well to provide natural habitat to a variety of adult frog species. Native plants are naturally adapted to our climate and environmental conditions. This means that their root systems penetrate deep into the ground to improve water infiltration. The SRRCD planted a variety of native plant species in 2016 and will complete the naturalization of the pond in 2017.

 

The Parc Carillon Frog Pond also functions as an urban storm water detention that utilizes the natural ecological functions of wetlands to retain and slow high water flows, reduce runoff in urban and semi-urban areas, and purify water quality with native plant species. Naturalized urban water detentions can be incorporated into aesthetically pleasing urban design features with naturally wild or manicured appearances for sustainable environmental development and integrated watershed planning and management.

 

“This project will be a great addition to Parc Carillon – one that will particularly interest classrooms,” said Raymond Maynard, Parc Carillon Committee President. “Interpretive signs will not only help describe the project, they will also point to the similarities between the pond and St-Pierre-Jolys’ lagoon expansion, a first of its kind using ongoing phytoremediation [plant-based remediation] as part of the treatment process.”

 

The success of the Parc Carillon Frog Pond gives meaning to the value of building strong partnerships at the local level. The SRRCD and Village of St-Pierre-Jolys cost-shared the project for $10,000 each. The SRRCD took the lead on the project with design support provided by Native Plant Solutions.

 

The Parc Carillon Frog Pond is an innovative wetland ecosystem and viable model for urban storm water management. This unique amphibian habitat is intrinsic to the community and home to the next generation of frog jumping champions.

 

 

 

 

Backwater Buggin’ for Healthy Waterways January 31st, 2017

The Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD) is excited to launch Backwater Buggin’ for Healthy Waterways. Backwater Buggin’ is a unique program implemented by the SRRCD in partnership with local schools. District staff help students collect information about the health of river and streams by examining the different types of bug communities that live in our waterways.

Did you know that water bugs can tell us a lot about the health of our waterways? That’s because some kinds of bugs are sensitive to changes in their environment. Pollution in our waterways can affect the abundance and diversity of benthic macro-invertebrate communities. Benthic macro-invertebrates are bottom dwelling bugs with no backbone. They live among the stones, logs, sediments, and plants of freshwater rivers, streams, lakes, and wetlands. They are large enough to see and include species, such as dragonfly and stonefly larvae, snails, worms, and beetles.

Bottom dwelling macro-invertebrates are reliable indicators of the biological health of waterways. They are ideal indicators because they spend all or most of their lives in water, are easy to collect, and differ in their tolerance to pollution. Healthy waterways can support a wide variety and high number of benthic macro-invertebrate species, including many that are less tolerant of pollution. Bug communities with only pollution-tolerant species, or very little abundance and diversity of macro-invertebrate species, may indicate a less healthy waterway.

Backwater Buggin’ is an aquatic biomonitoring program implemented by the SRRCD for collecting samples of benthic macro-invertebrate community compositions in southeast Manitoba. The bug samples we collect are used to establish a baseline for evaluating watershed health by sampling sites under the guidelines established by the Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network (CABIN). The CABIN program is maintained by Environment Canada and allows project partners to take their observations and make a formalized scientific assessment on watershed health using nationally comparable standards. This means that the data we collect through ongoing sampling will be shared with researchers across Canada working to support initiatives that promote healthy watersheds.

Backwater Buggin’ is a comprehensive biomonitoring program incorporating CABIN protocols to test for over a dozen parameters at each sampling site, including nitrogen, phosphorus – and bugs, of course. The high quality data collected through Backwater Buggin’ gives us a better understanding of why our waterways are in the state of health they are in. This data also increases the capacity for communities and local governments to make more informed decisions about sustainable watershed management. The SRRCD will use data collected through this program to guide the implementation of best management practices through existing Conservation District programming for reducing nutrient loading, sedimentation, and loss of functional riparian habitat.

The program also engages the community through public participation to identify and address surface water quality priorities in southeast Manitoba. The program is already generating excitement at Shevchenko School in Vita where junior and high school students are developing a bug library. This reference library of benthic macro-invertebrate specimens is being put together by the Shevchenko School Biomonitoring Group under the supervision of the SRRCD. The library will be maintained by the SRRCD and made publically available to educators and interested groups in the southeast. Students participating in Backwater Buggin’ gain hands-on experience by participating in sample collection and processing. Students also learn an appreciation for science-based water management issues in our region. The reference library also exposes students to practical applications of basic biological principals taught in school.

Backwater Buggin’ for Healthy Watersheds successfully piloted the project at 11 sample sites in the Roseau River watershed with plans to add additional sampling sites throughout the rest of the district. Contact our office in La Broquerie at (204) 424-5845, or in Vita at (204) 425-7877 to learn more about Backwater Buggin’ for Healthy Waterways. You can also visit us online at www.srrcd.ca.