Glacier FarmMedia COVID-19 & the Farm

Manitoba tightens fertilizer, manure regulations

Manitoba farmers will see more limits on use of both man-made and animal-made fertilizers as the province further tightens rules meant to reduce Lake Winnipeg’s phosphorus load.

“The (provincial) Clean Environment Commission (CEC) has sent a clear message that excessive phosphorus is enemy number one when it comes to restoring the health of Lake Winnipeg,” Conservation Minister Stan Struthers said in a release Thursday.

“New and more aggressive action is needed by all of us to ensure we can improve water quality.”

In crop producers’ case, that new action is to involve restrictions on the use of synthetic fertilizers containing phosphorus. The limits will apply not only to farmers but to golf course operators and to homeowners who apply fertilizers on their own lawns, the province said.

For livestock producers, a proposed regulation to ban winter spreading of manure on Manitoba farms by 2013 has been posted for consultation, the province said.

As well, all new hog producers will be required to register manure management plans with the province, a requirement recommended by the CEC in 2008.

Furthermore, the province said it will act now on a 2007 recommendation of the auditor general, to enforce a minimum storage capacity for manure storage of 250 days for concrete and steel storage facilities and 400 days for earthen facilities.

The province said it would also impose a maximum storage capacity of 500 days, to prevent the “unauthorized expansion” of hog operations.

Sewage ejectors

Also affecting residents of many rural and cottage-country communities are proposed regulations on the use of septic systems for wastewater management by homeowners and cottagers.

The province said its proposals include a ban on septic fields in “sensitive areas,” a ban on new sewage ejectors and a phase-out of existing ejectors.

The province said Thursday it will extend consultations with the Association of Manitoba Municipalities until May 8 to allow for a “full examination” of the proposed restrictions on septic systems.

The province has previously aimed to reduce the lake’s phosphorus load and stem the resulting buildup of algae, which in turn chokes out marine life, through new rules announced in the past year such as a moratorium on hog farm expansion in the Red River wastershed, which flows north into the lake.

Other related moves have included Manitoba’s “first-in-Canada” ban on phosphates in dish detergent, and on lawn fertilizers containing phosphorous. As well, the province imposed new buffer zones against spreading nutrients in riparian areas and an “outright ban” in sensitive areas.

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