Print Friendly, PDF & Email

International Watershed Activities


We are Part of An International Watershed

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

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:

  • Nutrients and algal blooms
  • Aquatic invasive species
  • Surface and groundwater contaminants
  • Impacts of climate change
  • Impacts of hydrologic regulation

To find out more visit International Joint Commission or contact Kelli Saunders, International Watershed Coordinator at 807-548-8002 or

“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.

Submitted by:
Kelli Saunders, International Watershed Coordinator
Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation

Watch the project video here!

Watershed News: A Series about Water Quality on Lake of the Woods

By Kelli Saunders, International Watershed Coordinator, Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation

Water…it gives us life, it symbolizes summer, it has spiritual meaning, it calms us, it’s what defines our community. To celebrate the importance of water locally and the great efforts collectively to protect it, this space will be dedicated to water throughout the summer months – its quality, its governance, its future and how we can all help to preserve it.

Here in Kenora, we are at the downstream end of the vast Rainy-Lake of the Woods watershed – 69,750 in size, the size of New Brunswick! We share our water with Minnesota and Manitoba – it is an international treasure, providing drinking water to over three quarters of a million people. What happens upstream impacts what happens downstream and this is why we need to work together with our neighbours on research and on a plan with actions to protect our water. Over the last 15 years, the Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation has been working to put a plan in place for the lake, ensuring there’s enough science and management expertise, and uniting and coordinating actions binationally – communities, researchers and policy makers.

Seven years ago, together with our partners, we launched the International Watershed Coordination Program to connect agencies, share research, educate and inform communities around the greater watershed. This series of articles is part of that program. Over the summer, we will touch on many topics, including understanding algae, Minnesota’s plans to improve water quality for the south end of Lake of the Woods, understanding where phosphorus comes from, providing insight into the role of the International Joint Commission (IJC), and suggestions on what can we do as citizens to help protect water quality.

This series is provided as part of the International Watershed Coordination Program of the Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation.