Category Archives: Watershed Moments

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

 

SEINE RAT RIVER CONSERVATION DISTRICT ANNUAL MEETING AND DINNER

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.

 

Composting Toilets at Tourond Creek Discovery Centre June 8th, 2018

Posted in: Tourond Creek Discovery Centre / Rosenthal Nature Park Watershed Moments

 

The Tourond Creek Discovery Centre (TCDC) is a unique public destination and outdoor learning environment located along Highway #52 near Kleefeld. Walking trails throughout the centre connect five distinct habitats to a viewing dock, lookout tower, and picnic shelter. School groups and outdoor enthusiasts visit the TCDC to explore nature in this naturalized space. It is also a convenient park-and-ride-sharing hub for local area commuters. The Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD) recognized an opportunity to accommodate TCDC visitors by installing composting toilet facilities.

The TCDC features two composting toilet facilities for public use. A waterless alternative to conventional systems is needed since running water is unavailable at this former waste disposal site. Composting toilets use natural processes to decompose human waste within a controlled environment. Over 90% of the waste entering the composting chamber is made up of water, which is evaporated through the toilet’s ventilation system. A scoop of carbon material, such as sawdust, dried leaves, or straw is added to the composting chamber after each use. The carbon binds with the nitrogen found in liquid and solid human waste to eliminate odor as well as to form the main nutrients found in compost. A balance of oxygen, moisture, heat, and organic material provides a rich environment for oxygen-loving bacteria to decompose the solid waste material. The composting chamber is manually stirred with a built-in agitator. A raking mechanism is manually operated to separate finished compost into a tray for removal. Composting toilets are a great option for places where septic and water systems are unavailable or cost-prohibitive.

Envirolet Waterless Self-Contained system (above)

The SRRCD installed two different composting toilet systems by Envriolet (www.envirolet.ca), including the Envirolet Waterless Self-Contained system and Waterless Remote system.

The Envirolet Waterless Self-Contained unit was installed in the ground-level washroom to accommodate easy accessibly for all mobility types. This unit has a full-time capacity of four persons and a vacation capacity of six persons. The toilet and composting chamber are both incorporated into this stand-alone unit, which is ideal for remote or isolated locations.

The Envirolet Waterless Remote system was installed in the elevated washroom and is designed to demonstrate what a composting system looks like in a home or cottage. The composting chamber is housed below the floor directly under the toilet. It has a larger full-time capacity of six persons and a vacation capacity of eight persons. The unit can be installed in the basement or on the ground outside.

Each washroom is mounted with a solar panel and battery system to power an electric ventilation fan in both the self-contained and remote systems. The small fan built into the unit circulates oxygen throughout the composting chamber while a small ventilation turbine draws odor and evaporated material into the atmosphere. The TCDC is a very windy site and the ventilation turbine draws nearly all odor from the composting chamber. The battery system is subsequently rarely used.

The SRRCD maintains and operates composting toilet facilities at TCDC throughout the spring and summer months between the snow melt and first snowfall. Daily use of the toilets at TCDC is much lower than their capacity since toilet use is largely related to event bookings. The TCDC hosted 17 groups events in 2017, not including visitors from the general public. There have been minimal problems with exceeded capacity since SRRCD staff regularly monitor the status of the toilet systems. The units are able to handle single-ply toilet paper and carbon additives, like saw dust after each use. The SRRCD stocks foam hand sanitizers in each washroom for personal hygiene. The composting facilities at TCDC are compliant with provincial regulations for composting toilets and health and safety standards for their use.

Our biggest challenge in maintaining composting toilets for public use is teaching people how to use them. Some of the problems we have experienced are associated with using more sawdust than necessary after each use, or leaving the composting chamber exposed by forgetting to close the toilet lid. We made a few adjustments by posting clearly marked operating instructions in the washroom. Our staff cleans the exterior of the toilet with household disinfectant. Caution must be taken to avoid spilling cleaning solution into the composting chamber since microbial activity inside the toilet should remain undisturbed.

Finished compost is removed from the tray about two times throughout the operational season. Compost derived from human waste is not safe for food production. The SRRCD buries finished compost in a designated area away from the site. The effectiveness of composting toilets at degrading pharmaceutical compounds and residues is unknown and users should consider the risk of pathogens found in composted human waste. Composted human waste should not be used in any edible produce gardens.

The composting toilet systems at TCDC provide an effective waterless alternative to conventional systems. They are easy to maintain and odor-free when following the manufacturer’s recommendations on daily use. There are a variety of composting toilet brands available for different applications. We can answer your questions about the construction, installation, and operation of our composting toilet facilities. Come by the Tourond Creek Discovery Centre and try one out today!

 

Seine-Rat River Conservation District

154 Friesen Avenue

Steinbach, MB

(204) 326-1030

info@srrcd.ca

www.srrcd.ca