Kenora and Lake of the Woods are within a watershed that is shared by Ontario, Manitoba and Minnesota. The future holds much promise for increased activity and shared watershed management in this basin, given the recent establishment in 2013 of the International Joint Commission’s International Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed Board, the recent commitment of the Canadian federal government to fund nutrient research on Lake of the Woods and the work with our U.S. neighbours to improve binational water management for the Rainy-Lake of the Woods basin. This initiative will require local commitment and participation from the City of Kenora and the Lake of the Woods Development Commission. The City has supported this international collaboration for many years and now is defining its own grassroots programs to instil a sense of pride and protection of our water resource. To find out more about local stewardship activities around the watershed, both in Canada and the U.S., visit www.rainylakeofthewoods.org.
The federal government’s nutrient research is one piece of a larger set of research and policy/governance needs facing the watershed, as identified by the International Joint Commission:
“A Healthy Lake Starts Here” Storm Drain Stenciling Project
On July 31, 2017 Kenora was part of a binational initiative to raise awareness of the Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed in which we live and promotion of stewardship of the water quality within it. As part of the International Watershed Coordination Program offered by the Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation, storm drains along the Kenora harbourfront had a stencil painted beside them, reading “A Healthy Lake Starts Here” and a picture of a fish or other wildlife that rely on good clean water. Storm drains along the waterfront empty directly into the lake and so it is important to recognize that what goes down the storm drain, goes into the lake. We need to keep harmful products like soaps from car washing, fertilizers, oils, etc. out of these drains. Many communities in Canada and the U.S. have similar stencils or permanent markers. Locally this same project was done in the spring of 2017 in Fort Frances and International Falls, MN, engaging 100 students and painting 120 stencils on both sides of the border.
This was a partnership project between the Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation, Lake of the Woods District Property Owners Association, the City of Kenora, Riverview Industries, and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
Kelli Saunders, International Watershed Coordinator
Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation