Category Archives: Watershed Moments

Project Spotlight: Penner Water Retention Project March 11th, 2019

Posted in: Water Storage/Retention Watershed Moments

The Penner Water Retention Project is an 800-metre-long dyke, located south of Steinbach, Manitoba in the Manning Canal sub-watershed district. It was completed in November 2018 in partnership with Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD) and local cattle producer, Marvin Penner. The project was designed to manage surface water runoff, as well as to mitigate downstream flooding of rural homes and agricultural land in the area.

Aerial photo of the Penner water retention project

The dyke was constructed to make use of a low-lying area of wet cattle pasture land. It has a water storage capacity of 17 acre feet with a four to seven day drawdown period. Sub-soil fill material for the dyke was taken on site. The material was excavated to form a ditch alongside the dyke. The 15-metre-wide spillway functions to handle excess surface water flows. It is reinforced with a deep cellular confinement grid and synthetic geotextile matting. The reinforced materials were then anchored securely to the soil below. SRRCD staff assisted with the installation of the cell grid and matting on the spillway. Two (2) 300 mm drawdown culverts were also installed next to the spillway to allow water to be slowly released throughout the drawdown period. Surface soil from the excavation process was placed on the top and sides of the dyke before it was leveled. Mr. Penner plans to seed and install a gated fence on top of the dyke next spring.

SRRCD staff assisting contractors with installation of cell grid and geotextile matting

The SRRCD used LiDAR data to identify potential water retention project sites in the Manning Canal sub-watershed district. Mr. Penner expressed interested in getting involved with the district for the sustainability of his livestock operation. He also completed an Environmental Farm Plan as part of the project agreement. The projects at SRRCD are custom designed in-house by the SRRCD to benefit the unique needs of local producers, communities, and the health of our watershed.

Penner water retention spillway construction

Schubert Family 2018 CD Award Winner February 8th, 2019

Posted in: Livestock Programming Watershed Moments

Sun Country Ranch is nestled in the southeast corner of Manitoba. It is home to Quinn and Stephan Schubert, as well as their twin seven-year-old daughters. The ranch was established in 2010 and has since expanded to include 300 head of Black Angus/Simmental crossbred cattle, 1,440 acres of property, and an additional equivalent in rented land. Most of the farm is covered in pasture land and hayfields while a selected few fields have recently been turned to corn and oats.

 The Schubert family

The Schubert family began expanding their family farm eight years ago. They were looking into ways of producing better calves, improving herd health, and increasing on-farm productivity. The Schubert’s identified some of the challenges they encountered at their home quarter, including a concentration of built up manure along an overwintering site; seasonal flooding of winter/spring pasture near drains; and the onset of Joni’s disease, which occurs when cattle are allowed to calve in the same area they are overwintered.

In 2015, the Schubert’s approached the Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD) with a plan for overcoming the challenges they found on their farm. The resulting partnership was established to move the cattle to a better location. A dry overwintering site was selected up on a ridge away from the flood-prone pasture and the spring gorge drain. The manure produced by the cattle could also be naturally spread out at this site and used to fertilize the corn crops envisioned for this parcel. This option also prevents the manure from washing downstream and contributing to algal blooms in Lake Winnipeg. The Schubert family drilled a well and fenced off their entire home quarter at their own expense. The well provides a reliable water source to the cattle at the new overwintering site. The SRRCD entered into a cost-share partnership to fund a solar and wind powered watering system for providing the cattle with fresh, clean water all winter long.

The Schubert family has since become an important supporter of the SRRCD. They have gone on to partner with the district on three more livestock management projects. The Schubert’s have been keen on helping their friends and neighbours optimize their individual watering systems. They have also given the SRRCD valuable recommendations on how to make these systems work to their full potential.

Quinn and Stephan Schubert are leaders in their community. They are showing how environmentally responsible practices can improve herd health, increase on-farm productivity, and become more profitable by improving calf weights with access to clean drinking water. The Schubert’s are always looking for ways to partner with the SRRCD and Manitoba Agriculture on new projects at their ranch.

The Schubert Alternative Watering System provides cattle with a source of clean drinking water


The SRRCD recognizes Quinn and Stephan Schubert as this year’s Manitoba Conservation Districts Association CD Award Winner for exemplifying sustainable on-farm best management practices in their community, and for their outstanding commitment to the health of our watershed.

Lieutenant Governor Attends SRRCD Annual Meeting February 5th, 2019

Posted in: General Watershed Moments



The Seine-Rat Rive Conservation District (SRRCD) had the distinct pleasure of hosting Her Honour the Honourable Janice C. Filmon, C.M., O.M. Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba at this year’s annual general meeting.

Her Honour addressed those in attendance and presented service awards to district members, as well as the Conservation District Builder Award and Conservation District Award to outstanding community members.

Her Honour also thanked the SRRCD and its volunteer members for their important work and remarked on the successful accomplishments made towards sustainable land and water resource management in the district.

“Our water depends on organizations like the Seine-Rat River Conservation District and leaders in conversation like those being honoured tonight,” said Her Honour.

“These volunteers and role models have worked to keep nutrients out of waterways, reduce erosion, protect groundwater, improve water storage and plan water management and protection across southeastern Manitoba.

“They realize that water connects everything – living and non-living, human and animal, the past, present and future.

“To all those who work to protect and enhance the rivers and creeks that run through our province, I offer thanks and congratulations on your accomplishments here in the Seine-Rat River Conservation District.”

The SRRCD recognizes the following people for their contributions to sustainable best management practices on their farms, in our region, and for the health of our watershed.


Conservation District Award:

Stephan & Quinn Schubert

 15 Year Board Member Service Award:

Cornie Goertzen

10 Year Board Member Service Awards:

Art Bergmann
Bob Brandt
Jim Swidersky
Larry Bugera

15 Year Sub-District Member Service Awards:

Averil Griffith
Claude Roeland
Eric Wiens
Eugene Lemoine
Harold Janzen
Henry Funk
Jacques Trudeau
Jake Reimer
Mark Reimer
Randy Eros
Raymond Gagné
Richard Bernat
Rod Beckman
Roger Chartier
Ron Vermette



Remarks by
The Honourable Janice Filmon, C.M., O.M.
Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba

Protectors of our water and soil, guardians of the future, members and friends of the Seine-Rat River Conservation District, it’s a pleasure to join you this evening to celebrate an organization and a group of volunteers who are dedicated to the future of our province and our planet.

We are gathered on Treaty One land, on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe and the homeland of the Metis people.

A little over a century ago, this land where we are meeting was part of thousands of square miles of wet prairie – a mix of forest, field and marsh where the first farmers struggled to drain off enough water to plant and harvest crops.

For centuries before, it was rich country for hunting and trapping, with meandering rivers, bogs and marshes filled with moose, beavers and muskrats.

And thousands of years before that, where we are standing wassilt and mud at the bottom of Lake Agassiz.

Life in this corner of Manitoba – as everywhere else on earth – is determined by water – by its presence, its absence or its quality.

Today, as our population has grown and our technology has become vastly more powerful, we find that no longer is it just that we depend on water. Now, water depends on us as well.

Our water depends on organizations like the Seine Rat River Conservation District and leaders in conservation like those being honoured tonight.

These volunteers and role models have worked to keep nutrients out of waterways, reduce erosion, protect groundwater, improve water storage and plan water management and protection across southeastern Manitoba.

They realize that water connects everything – living and non-living, human and animal, the past, present and future.

They see that, in the words of the angler and author Norman Maclean, “everything merges into one – and a river runs through it.”

To all those who work to protect and enhance the rivers and creeks that run through our province, I offer thanks and congratulations on your accomplishments here in the Seine-Rat River Conservation District.

Thank you. Merci. Meegwich.

Dealing with Abandoned Wells February 5th, 2019

Posted in: Watershed Moments Wells

The RM of Taché sealed an abandoned well in Lorette with surprising results. Peter Skjaerlund, Manager of Public Works, says he inadvertently discovered an abandoned well in 2015 while on a site visit with the municipality’s then CAO, Dan Poersch. Both Peter and Dan noticed ponded water at a property located alongside the Seine River. They observed that the ponded water was disappearing into an unusual ground-level depression. That’s when Peter and Dan found an abandoned well filled with debris. The ponded water was draining into the old well casing and through the debris into the groundwater below.

Abandoned wells can be harmful to the quality of groundwater and drinking water supply. That’s because they can provide a direct path for contaminants and pollutants to enter the underground aquifers that supply water wells. Old unused wells can be hard to find. They may be buried under soil or hidden in long grass. Sometimes, the only evidence is a ground level depression or an old well casing. Permanently closing an abandoned or unused well involves sealing the well with grout to stop the upward flow of water through the well.

The RM of Taché sealed this abandoned well through the Seine-Rat Rat River Conservation District’s (SRRCD) Abandoned Well Sealing Program. The SRRCD funds 100% of the cost up to $2,000 for sealing old or unused wells. The abandoned well in the RM of Taché was subsequently sealed in fall 2015 with some unexpected benefits to the local water quality.

A nearby municipal well was showing the presence of total coliform bacteria at the time the abandoned well was sealed. Water quality testing results on the municipal well indicated that there was likely a source of total coliform in the area around or inside the well. The source remained a mystery until the water test results showed that total coliforms in the water began to disappear on its own.

Peter noticed that the water quality in the municipal well began to improve after the abandoned well was sealed. Peter dug a little deeper into this mystery and learned that the natural path of the groundwater flowed under the ground from the area of the abandoned well towards the direction of the municipal well. Surface water entering the groundwater through the abandoned well carried total coliform bacteria to the nearby municipal well.

The bacterial count in the municipal went down to zero total coliforms in a few short months after the abandoned well was sealed. The well continues to meet provincial standards for safe drinking water to this day. This successful abandoned well sealing project shows how easily contamination can enter our ground water supply. Water contaminated through abandoned wells can quickly spread to other drinking water sources and cause serious declines in water quality

Peter said, “Sealing the abandoned well was a huge improvement for us in water quality. It was exciting to see the bacterial results go down after we pinpointed the problem to the abandoned well.”

He also said, “We sometimes overlook the benefits of local programs when their outcomes become noticeable in the long-run. The result of this project became apparent soon after we sealed the problematic well. I encourage people to seal their abandoned wells because I saw firsthand how surface water can directly affect the quality of our groundwater and drinking water supply.”

The SRRCD is accepting Abandoned Well Sealing program applications. You can download an application today by visiting our website or contacting our office today.