Manitoba addresses short water supplies

Livestock producers struggling with half-full or empty dugouts are getting some help in Manitoba.

Today the provincial government announced funding for farmers who want to improve their water supplies.

“We recognize that many producers are feeling the effects of our dry summer and that they may require additional assistance to secure a safe and reliable water supply for their livestock,” said provincial Agriculture Minister Ralph Eichler. “Properly functioning and adequately protected ground and surface water sources are essential to ensuring the health of livestock and ground water sources.”

The financial support is for a list of projects, such as:

• Drilling new or deepening existing wells, test hole drilling, screening, casing, well caps.

• Installing water pumps and required plumbing components and related activities.

• Constructing new or rehabilitating existing dugouts.

• Establishing alternative watering system equipment and permanent fencing to restrict livestock access to surface water and dugouts.

The applicable program is managing livestock access to riparian areas beneficial management practice (BMP) under Ag Action Manitoba – Assurance.

The support is needed because dugouts and water supplies, especially in Manitoba’s Interlake and Parkland regions, have been inadequate for months.

Rainfall was well below normal in the spring and summer, stressing water supplies for livestock. Precipitation in late August and early September barely made a difference.

“Pasture water sources have not improved significantly from the rain because the moisture infiltrated the soil quickly and resulted in no runoff,” Manitoba Agriculture said in its Sept. 10 crop report, describing conditions in the northwest.

Several cattle died this summer in Manitoba’s Interlake because of poor water quality. The animals likely died from dugout water contaminated with cyanobacteria, which releases a toxin that can be deadly for livestock and pets.

To be eligible, applicants must complete by November 2020 an environmental farm plan that will help manage risk on their farms related to water quality and supply, soil health, air quality and biodiversity.

The province will accept applications for the water supply funding until Oct. 11.

For more information, contact a regional representative of Manitoba Agriculture or click here.

Contact robert.arnason@producer.com

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