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Strategic Large-Basin Management for Multiple Benefits: Submission to the Manitoba Clean Environment Commission

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Strategic Large-Basin Management for Multiple Benefits: Submission to the Manitoba Clean Environment Commission

This paper was submitted to the Manitoba Clean Environment Commission (CEC) for consideration in its review of the regulation of Lake Winnipeg under the Water Power Act.

The submission makes the case for strategic basin management in the Lake Winnipeg/Nelson River basins to ensure that decisions related to lake regulation and related power management are made in an integrated context.

We make the case that Manitoba and the Lake Winnipeg/Nelson River basins will be able to adapt to the challenges of climate change, flood, drought and nutrient loading by adopting a whole-basin management approach while considering how the lake itself is regulated. For example, strategic management of wetlands and other potential water storage upstream can help address multiple concerns by capturing nutrients, storing water to reduce peak flows during floods and buffering against climate change. The state of Lake Winnipeg and the benefits it provides (such as power generation) are affected not only by lake regulation, but also by actions on and management of upstream land and water. We profile other large basins in which management for ecosystem services, including the generation of hydroelectric power, is being pursued. In particular, the Columbia River and Murray-Darling River basins are useful case studies in transboundary management to produce multiple benefits.

Our overarching recommendation is that there is need for a framework for basin-wide management, and that ecosystem services should be an integral part of its design. We make additional recommendations that link closely to large-basin management planning.