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.

 

 

Project Spotlight: Vita Community Child Care Centre Rain Garden Project December 22nd, 2016

The Vita Community Child Care Centre had a vision for developing a natural playground. They wanted to develop a space for children to connect with nature through outdoor play. Engaging with nature is one of the best ways for children to master emerging social, emotional, and physical skills, like running, jumping, inventing games, and solving problems. The Vita Community Child Care Centre found a unique way of developing a natural playground by incorporating the environmental benefits of rain gardens.

A rain garden is a bowl-shaped perennial garden that captures surface water runoff. They are typically planted in urban and 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 to the street and subsequently overwhelm local drainage infrastructure. It can even pick up harmful substances on its way to the drain, including road salt, heavy metals, oils, and other contaminants. These contaminants can harm the quality of our drinking water and put the health of our aquatic ecosystems at risk when they end up in our rivers and lakes. Rain gardens provide a simple solution for mitigating local flooding issues by infiltrating surface water through the soil. The soil in a rain garden is porous because it is amended with organic materials that help speed infiltration and filter out pollutants. The perennial plants in the garden clean surface water by taking up nutrients as water is absorbed into the soil. Rain gardens also create habitat for birds, bees, butterflies, and other wildlife. They also beautify the neighbourhood and mitigate local water issues.

The natural playground area of the Vita Community Child Care Centre functions as both a rain garden and as a unique natural landscape for outdoor play. The rain garden is designed to capture and store water from the roof of the building as well as from the playground area. A small hill with a slide overlooks the rain garden and features a hand pump system, which circulates water for children’s playtime. This interactive design provides stimulating physical play while teaching children about the water cycle and importance of green spaces. The water used during children’s playtime is returned back into the rain garden at the end of the day to minimize waste and the need for plant watering. This innovative multi-use space utilizes the environmental benefits of rain gardens to inspire children’s imaginations through hands-on outdoor play.

Kim Chornopyski, Director of the Vita Community Child Care Centre, said, “The children and staff are very happy with our new natural playground. The children were able to watch the work being done to keep track of the progress being made. The hill is very popular and the trail around the yard is the perfect ‘track’ for chasing games. Our natural play hut and sand box is a nice area to sit and relax. It is also a central meeting place for the children when they are playing. The rock climbing wall and timber stump steps provide the children with opportunities to exercise their muscles. We just scratched the surface when it comes to all the opportunities it offers for children’s play.”

The Vita day care approached local representatives of the Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD) with the project idea in summer 2015. The SRRCD Board of Directors approved project funding for two urban rain gardens as well as project design and management support. Additional funding was secured by the Vita day care through a Province of Manitoba Community Places Program grant. The natural playground rain garden project was completed in summer 2016 with plans to complete a second rain garden for the purpose of capturing water from a secondary sump pump discharge area.  The Vita Community Child Care Centre urban rain garden project is an innovative watershed initiative implemented at the local level.

“We look forward to the upcoming spring and summer season when we will experience the environmental benefits of the rain garden first-hand with the children,” said Kim.

Heavy precipitation events and rapid snowmelt in the Southeast challenge the way we manage surface water in our area. Rain gardens are innovative design features that can improve the way we manage surface water in urban areas. The SRRCD 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. Give us a call in La Broquerie at (204) 424-5845, or in Vita at (204) 425-7877. You can also visit us online at www.srrcd.ca.

Roseau River Surface Water Assessment Complete November 15th, 2016

The Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD) recently completed a surface water assessment in the Roseau River watershed. The purpose of this assessment is to help communities develop sustainable surface water management strategies and increase understanding of how water flows into the Roseau River by creating an inventory of culverts located throughout the watershed.

This summer, the SRRCD partnered with the RMs of Stuartburn and Piney to collect culvert flow information on municipally managed culverts. Field staff used global positioning satellite (GPS) survey equipment to identify 2,175 culvert locations in the watershed. Staff also recorded elevation at the upstream and downstream end of each culvert, as well as information about culvert type (corrugated steel, plastic); restrictions (gate, apron); and culvert condition (torn, crushed, blocked, or altered pipe) for each municipality.

The GPS data collected throughout the surface water assessment can be analyzed using computer mapping software to show culvert locations and alignments for hydro-conditioning Digital Elevation Models (DEM). Hydro-conditioning refers to the process of using computer mapping software to accurately represent the flow of water across the contours of our landscape, including hills, valleys, cliffs, depressions, and even under roads. Hydro-conditioned DEMs can now allow us to accurately calculate where water will flow after a rain event. It is also possible to calculate the effects of changes on the landscape, such as replacing a small culvert with a large culvert. This means that the capacity to model surface water flows will give decision-makers better information on implementing sustainable surface water management strategies, including water storage and drought preparedness.

Water storage is important for slowing the flow of water to mitigate the effects of flooding on homeowners and agricultural land. Hydro-conditioned DEM surface water models are used to identify water storage sites in the watershed that are most beneficial to the community. Water storage and drought preparedness modelling are both currently being prepared by the province. Everyone agrees that the only thing worse than too much water is not enough water at all.

The inventory of culverts collected through the surface water assessment provides municipalities with information about the status of each culvert under their management. Municipalities can take short-term action to replace or maintain culverts identified in the inventory as no longer functioning due to damage, alteration, or blockages. The inventory also allows municipalities to develop long-term asset management strategies to optimize water management needs throughout the area by resizing or repositioning culverts, as well as replacing culverts that may be reaching the end of their design life.

The surface water assessment conducted by the SRRCD is a successful initiative that provides benefits to local municipalities in partnership with the district. The RM of Stuartburn recognizes the importance of these benefits for planning and decision-making.

Jim Swidersky, Reeve of the RM of Stuartburn, says, “Useful information is the lead to all projects because it increases the capacity for communities and local government to make more informed decisions.”

The SRRCD is pleased to partner with municipalities in our district by developing initiatives that benefit the health of our watershed. Feel free to contact our offices in La Broquerie and Vita for more information about the Roseau River Surface Water Assessment. We can be reached in La Broquerie at (204) 424-5845 or in Vita at (204) 425-7877. You can also visit us online at www.srrcd.ca.

Volunteer Weather Observer Shocked by On-Farm Downpour October 11th, 2016

By Alan Wiebe at Seine-Rat River Conservation District

Harold and his brother were taken by storm last summer when they heard news that a deluge of rain dumped 2.81 inches of rain on their crop land near St. Elizabeth, Manitoba.

“We were in Winnipeg at the time and my brother phoned home to talk to my sister-in-law,” said Harold. “She said it was just pouring outside! We got home later and couldn’t believe what we saw. A storm cell had just formed and burst on our small area of land. You could have gone a mile in any direction from where we live and no one received any measureable amount of rain.”

The saying, “Rain doesn’t fall the same on all” certainly gives meaning to Harold, an avid CoCoRaHS volunteer weather observer. Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) is a grassroots network of volunteer weather observers of all ages and backgrounds. They work together to measure and map precipitation, including rain, hail, and snow, in their local communities. The data they report is used to better understand where precipitation falls in our communities and how weather affects our lives.

Harold checks his rain gauge every day and reports weather information online using an app on his phone. The extreme nature of the isolated precipitation event he experienced on July 15, 2015 caught the attention of CoCoRaHS weather watchers, including Tiffiny Taylor, Provincial Coordinator for CoCoRaHS Manitoba.

“Tiffiny called me to find out if there was a reporting error. I laughed at the time because my brother was with me to verify the huge amount of rain we received. The bad part was that our area got another 1.88 inches of rain the next day.” said Harold.

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 health of Harold’s farm is deeply connected to the weather and the health of the Marsh River watershed. He says that the CoCoRaS website is nice for keeping track of localized precipitation in his area in the Municipality of Montcalm, just east of the Red River.

“I love the way you can go on the website and check the map to see how much precipitation the neighbours got. It’s a great way of tracking total rainfall amounts and how much precipitation you have on your farm for the season.”

CoCoRaHS is the largest provider of daily precipitation observations in the United States. This network of volunteer observers report precipitation measurements throughout Canada, the United States, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Bahamas. The daily observations collected by volunteer observers are reported in real-time and are used to provide high quality data for natural resource, education, and research applications.

“Every drop counts for volunteer weather reporting,” said Tiffiny, “including reports of zero precipitation. That’s because organizations across North America use CoCoRaHS data every day to get the latest weather reports as they come in.”

The Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD) uses CoCoRaHS data to help us model water flows in our watershed. Pete Hiebert is a SRRCD sub-watershed representative of the Manning Canal watershed. He is also a dedicated CoCoRaHS volunteer observer who is interested in checking how much moisture is in the snow. He believes that volunteer weather reporting is important because weather data is more accurate when there are more volunteer weather observers reporting.

The increasing frequency and severity of short-duration, high-intensity precipitation events means that volunteer observers play an important role in their communities. Organizations like the SRRCD benefit when there are more volunteers because they provide localized precipitation data that can be used to implement more effective surface water management strategies.

According to Tiffiny, “Managing erratic and extreme precipitation events, as well as longer, hotter, and drier growing seasons pose major adaptation challenges. That’s why precipitation data, and more of it, is really important. The data our volunteer observers provide tells us the story of our current climate conditions. More data gives us better tools to assess and address changes in our land and water systems. It also helps flood and drought forecasters, as well as decision-makers, make more informed decisions for managing risk, flood and drought mitigation, and building resilience in our communities.”

Joining the CoCoRaHS network as a volunteer weather observer is easy. Anybody with an enthusiasm for watching and reporting weather conditions can become a volunteer observer. Volunteers receive training and education on how to use low-cost measurement tools to report observations on the interactive CoCoRaHS website.

“I got involved with CoCoRaHS because I like tracking weather and precipitation. I am a farmer and it’s nice to see what my total precipitation amounts are for the year. The data we collect is also helping other organizations and this information is beneficial to everyone in the region.”

The SRRCD is pleased to partner with CoCoRaHS to measure and map precipitation data in our district. You can sign up to become a CoCoRaHS volunteer weather observer by visiting www.cocorahs.org. You can also find out more by contacting the SRRCD at one of our offices in the southeast. We can be reached in La Broquerie at (204) 424-5845, or in Vita at (204) 425-7877. You can also visit us online at www.srrcd.ca.

 

Funk Cross-River Fence Unique to Canada: Pilot-Project a Success August 23rd, 2016

The Rat River is a picturesque waterway viewed from Peter Funk’s farm, located south of Grunthal, MB along Highway #216. The river winds its way through Peter’s pastureland as it crosses the highway and flows into St. Malo Lake. Peter needs to fence off the river to prevent his cattle from wandering away when the river level is low. Fencing off the river, however, creates an obstruction and safety concern for river users accessing the waterway throughout the year.

A canoeist from Ontario recently received a shock after canoeing into an electric fence hung over the Nith River near Kitchener. The safety and accessibility of waterways and the need for exclusion fencing for riparian livestock management is a source of contention between farmers and recreational river users. The wire fence Peter hung across the river was frequently cut until he spoke with Robert Budey, a Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD) sub-watershed representative of the Rat River & Joubert Creek watershed.

“I spoke with Peter and brought up the issue at the next sub-district meeting,” said Robert. “The sub-district passed a recommendation for a cross-river fence pilot-project that was adopted by the SRRCD Board of Directors in 2015.”

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Funk Cross-River Fence viewed from the Rat River along Highway #216

Funk Cross-River Fence Design

The SRRCD partnered with Peter Funk to find an innovative response to the mutual concerns on both side of the fence. Chris Randall, SRRCD Project Supervisor, provided his expertise as an environmental professional and long-time canoeing enthusiast to acquire the necessary permits and implement a customized design for Peter.

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Constructing the Funk Cross-River Fence

The Funk Cross-River Fence is made up of a steel cable strung across the river and secured to fence posts. The cable is raised a few metres above the water level so that river users can safely navigate the waterway underneath the cable. Plastic PVC pipes hanging from the cable are uniformly spaced apart to create a ‘curtain’ effect. The curtain effect of the pipes acts as a visual barrier to deter livestock from wandering away. It also allows canoeists to safely manoeuver through the pipes that hang freely above the riverbed. The design of the pipe assembly consists of a wire that is threaded through a drilled hole in the pipe and looped around the steel cable. The pipe assembly is designed so that individual pipes can be easily replaced. The pipes are spaced one foot apart and secured in place to a rope threaded through the wire loops. The rope is used to pull the curtain of pipes back into the riverbank to allow snowmobilers and cross-country skiers safe access to the waterway in winter.

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Funk Cross-River Fence pipe assembly

Funk Cross-River Fence Unique to Canada

 A variation of the Funk Cross-River Fence design was first developed in the United States by the Dolores River Boating Advocates in Colorado. The group became concerned by a boating accident involving a man who was snagged by barbed wire under the surface of the water. The boaters collaborated with a local rancher to develop a river fence to protect both river users and livestock. The resulting river fence in Colorado provided the inspiration for the Funk Cross-River Fence pilot-project implemented by the SRRCD in 2015 and completed with follow-up activities taking place in 2016.

The Funk Cross-River Fence is unique to Canada and was funded by the SRRCD for under $1,000. The high visibility of the river fence along Highway #216 has stirred curiosity in the local community. The SRRCD has subsequently committed to installing two more cross-river fences in the area as word-of-mouth conversations between neighbours speak to the success of this unique pilot-project.

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Funk Cross-River Fence in-action

Successful watershed initiatives are established at the local level by innovators, like Peter Funk and Robert Budey. Our programs are created by early adopters who challenge us to embrace innovation by working together to find creative solutions at the local, sub-watershed, and board levels. District members, like Robert Budey, go the extra mile to make meaningful connections on the ground and the success of the Funk Cross-River Fence gives meaning to the value of active district member engagement with the local community.

“We work in a lot of riparian areas,” says Robert, “and it’s important to use the resources we already have to find the best solutions that benefit agriculture and the local community.”

The SRRCD is always looking for new ways to partner with our watershed residents and we are pleased to do the legwork behind the resource planning needed to implement a project, allowing you to focus on doing what you do best.

Visit our website at www.srrcd.ca to learn more about the programs we offer.

Sustainable Land Use Initiatives Gaining Momentum in Manitoba July 21st, 2016

The Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD) was pleased to host the 2016 Manitoba Conservation Districts Association (MCDA) tour right here in our watershed. This annual event showcases the very best of the Manitoba Conservation Districts Program. Each year, one of Manitoba’s 18 Conservation Districts is invited to host the tour. Over 100 visitors from across the province came to attend this year’s event that featured sustainable projects by the SRRCD. The wealth of knowledge and the diversity of visitors enriched this event with meaningful discussions about alternative land use initiatives to build a more sustainable Manitoba.

Check out our first storybook map

The projects featured on the 2016 MCDA tour were designed for temporary water storage and are unique to each site. It is a privilege to showcase the benefits of effective water retention in our watershed and we are proud to provide you with an opportunity to revisit the project sites we encountered on our tour. Click here to view an interactive story map of the 2016 MCDA tour. We hope this map will inspire memories of the meaningful discussions and ideas that stirred our imaginations along the way.

We are also excited to share David Wiens’ story as it was featured in the Manitoba Co-operator. Click “Farmer sees water storage as ‘win-win,’ ” to read more about the remarkable history of the De Salaberry Crown Lands & Skyline Diary Water Retention project.

What are ecological goods and services?

The heart of our watershed initiatives are made up of grassroots innovators, like David Wiens, who give meaning to the value of ecological goods and services (EG&S). EG&S refer to the benefits provided to humans by healthy ecosystems. Ecological goods include things like clean air, fresh water, and the food we produce. The natural world provides us with essential ecological services that are necessary to sustain life, like water and air purification, flood and drought protection, pollination of crops and vegetation, and soil renewal. The value society places on ecological goods and services creates a demand for healthy ecosystems that can be met by private landowners.

Farmers are in the best position to use their land to produce EG&S. They also have unique opportunities to take leadership of environmental priorities in partnership with their communities. Sustainable land use initiatives that promote the provision of EG&S are gaining momentum in Manitoba. The Province of Manitoba recently announced its commitment to implementing a province-wide program based on the Alternative Land Use Services model to help reduce flooding and improve water quality and nutrient management. This is fantastic news for a more sustainable Manitoba!

SRRCD programs are custom designed for farmers

The projects featured by the SRRCD on the MCDA tour were initiated at the local level by people whose livelihoods are deeply connected to the health of our watershed. These innovative projects were custom designed to enhance farming operations unique to each farm. They also provide ecological goods and services to communities in the surrounding area. Our programs are welcomed by early adopters who believe in farming for the next generation. They are farmers, innovators, and leaders who are willing to take ownership of the health of their watershed for the long-term sustainability of their farming operations. The SRRCD is pleased to support their vision by doing the legwork behind the project planning and implementation of projects for sustainably-minded farmers, allowing them to do what they do best.

Visit us online at www.srrcd.ca to find out more about the programs we offer or sign up for our monthly newsletter. You can also stop by one of our offices in La Broquerie or Vita. Let’s chat!

Connecting with Nature at Rosenthal Nature Park June 22nd, 2016

Historic community of Rosenthal

 The Rosenthal Nature Park is a public space located in Mitchell, Manitoba, and is the site of the historic community of Rosenthal. This village was home to some 25 families who established themselves in the mid-1870s before relocating prior to the census of 1881. The presence of artifacts and the preservation of this site are intrinsic to the history of the local area that is characterized by rapid population growth and development.

Model for sustainable development

Rapid population growth and development, and the severity of high water events in the southeast has culminated in an urgent need to rethink surface water management strategies and development planning. The Rosenthal Nature Park is an innovative model for sustainable development and integrated watershed management. It demonstrates the viability of utilizing the natural functions of wetlands to retain and slow high water flows; reduce surface water runoff in urban and semi-urban areas; and purify water quality with native plant species.

Park design

The design of the Rosenthal Nature Park is comprised of walking trails that connect the wetland and upland ecosystems of the park to wildlife observation areas. Observation areas throughout the park offer a visually pleasing and comfortable environment for visitors to encounter local wildlife.

The wetland ecosystem is characterized by a lake and peninsula. This constructed wetland is planted with native aquatic plant species from local donor sites and is an ideal habitat for native and migratory water fowl.

The upland ecosystem of the park is seeded with wild flower mix that flourishes into a colourful array of flowering plants that invite various butterfly species to the area. A forage mix seeded alongside the existing bushes bordering the northerly edge of the park provides the ideal vegetative ground cover for deer foraging. Grassland birdhouses and waterfowl houses placed throughout the park offer waterfowl and shorebird species places to nest.

Today, the Rosenthal Nature Park is bursting with life. The range of plant and wildlife species throughout the park contribute to greater biodiversity in the area and reflects an intentional effort to bring together the human and physical environment.

Strong partnerships transform Rosenthal site

The site of the Rosenthal Nature Park was formerly used as a borrow pit to shape the berm surrounding the Mitchell lagoon. Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD) members of the Manning Canal sub-watershed worked together with the SRRCD Board and staff, as well as the RM of Hanover, to restore ecological function to the site. The RM of Hanover and the SRRCD subsequently entered into a cost-share partnership to re-naturalize the site for public use.

Connecting with nature

Connecting with nature through outdoor exploration is an essential component of the Rosenthal Nature Park. The park is modeled after the Tourond Creek Discovery Centre (TCDC) in Kleefeld. The TCDC is a green environment that is visited by families, nature lovers, and school groups. Teachers use the site as an outdoor classroom by facilitating hands-on learning activities that encourage outdoor play. These activities are designed to give meaning to environmental education by allowing students to interact with nature through fun, outdoor activities. More information about the TCDC is available online at www.tourondcreekdiscovery.ca. While the Rosenthal Nature Park provides opportunities for environmental education, it is a unique mixed-use green environment that is now open for you to explore.

The naturalized environment of the Rosenthal Nature Park supports a broader vision for community health. It integrates active transportation and outdoor exploration into a unique green environment that facilitates the discovery of meaningful connections with nature.

The Rosenthal Nature Park is located north of Mitchell on Randolph Road and east of Road 30-E.

We look forward to seeing you there!

 

Rosenthal Map

 

Wetland Observation

Wildlife observation area at Rosenthal Nature Park