Wetland degradation

The opinion article written by Neil Mehrer in the April 14 edition draws attention to a very important issue in prairie Canada. We should all pay more attention to the continued loss and degradation of wetlands.

Because wetlands hold water and release it slowly, intact wetlands have the potential to reduce the volumes associated with flooding, whereas drainage changes the ability of the landscape to handle flooding events.

Over much of the Prairies, drainage has removed capacity of the landscape to hold water in times of flood. An empty sponge can’t hold water if the sponge doesn’t exist. Continued wetland drainage has removed these sponges from the land.

The ability of wetlands to reduce flooding is better understood now than when the Assiniboine Basin Study Mr. Mehrer refers to was completed.

Wetlands provide water filtration benefits by retaining excess nutrients so they don’t reach our rivers and lakes.

Additionally, wetlands play a key role in carbon sequestration and when wetlands are drained there is a substantial release of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

This new information must be included in the debate on the balance between farms and wetlands.

I thank Mr. Mehrer for bringing attention to this important issue. It is about time we recognized the role that agricultural producers play in providing ecological goods and services through good farming practices.

But the continued draining and degradation of wetlands is not a good farming practice and, unless it is stopped, the sustainability of agriculture is in jeopardy, which is something no one benefits from.

Elections across the Prairies were the perfect time to debate these issues, but let’s make sure the facts speak more loudly than rhetoric and unsubstantiated opinions.

Cynthia Edwards,Nokomis, Sask.

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