Pembina Valley Watershed District
Manitoba’s Watershed Districts Program (previously Conservation Districts) is one of the most successful land and water conservation partnerships in Canada. The Watershed Districts Act, proclaimed on January 1, 2020, transitioned 18 conservation districts to 14 new watershed districts with boundaries based on watersheds. The program has also been modernized to enhance watershed-based water management in Manitoba.
Watershed districts are formed as a partnership between the province and local municipalities to protect, restore and manage land and water resources on a watershed basis. Watershed districts are established under the authority of The Watershed Districts Act. Each district is charged with developing and implementing programming to improve watershed health, while four districts also have a surface water infrastructure mandate to maintain provincial waterways within their boundary. Resources such as soil, water, forests and wildlife are all interrelated. Altering any single resource may indirectly or directly affect other resources. WDs provide an overall approach to effectively manage all resources as a unified system. It is useful to be able to view resource problems or opportunities within natural boundaries rather than man-made ones. For example, a problem in one municipality (such as flooding) may originate in another municipality (extensive land clearing). The WD, because it includes several municipalities, provides a means for people in different municipalities to cooperate in managing resources.
Watershed districts can also be designated as a Water Planning Authority for integrated watershed management planning under The Water Protection Act in Manitoba. They provide leadership in both the development and implementation of watershed plans. A watershed plan assists a district in planning long-term and short-term goals and identifying priority projects to improve watershed health.
The Pembina Valley Conservation District (PVCD) was officially established by Order in Council (cabinet resolution) on October 2, 1989, after four years of negotiations between local municipalities. The original members were the Rural Municipalities of Lorne, Louise, Pembina and Thompson; they have since been joined by the villages/towns of Crystal City, Manitou, Pilot Mound, Cartwright and Morden (2007) and the R.M. of Roblin (1997) and the R.M. of Stanley (2003). Pembina Valley was the sixth CD to be formed in Manitoba since 1972. There have since been twelve more additions.
The primary reasons for forming the Pembina Valley Conservation District involved concerns with the loss of valuable topsoil through wind and water erosion in the area. Water shortages for local farmers, and erosion of municipal roads, have also been persistent problems. The establishment and operation of a CD has provided local landowners with technical and financial assistance to participate in the kind of soil and water conservation programs that they feel are needed.
With the announcement of Municipal Amalgamations in 2014, the PVCD's partners changed somewhat. Our urban partners were kept intact, with the addition of the Villages of Somerset and Notre Dame de Lourdes. The Municipality of Pembina, R.M. of Stanley, R.M. of Thompson, Municipality of Louise, R.M. of Lorne, Cartwright-Roblin Municipality and City of Morden were all still members.
Effective January 1, 2020 the Province of Manitoba proclaimed The Watershed District Act. According to the Climate Minister Sarah Guillemard “Our government is committed to becoming Canada’s cleanest, greenest, most climate-resilient province, and an important part of achieving that goal is to ensure the sustainability of our wetlands and watershed today, and for generations to come.”
With this proclamation the Pembina Valley Conservation District became known as the Pembina Valley Watershed District (PVWD). We became a true watershed based approach to watershed management in Manitoba. PVWD welcomed new partners. The 10 member municipalities are as follows: R.M. of Argyle, Municipality of Boissevain-Morton, Cartwright-Roblin Municipality, Municipality of Killarney-Turtle Mountain, Municipality of Lorne, Municipality of Louise, Municipality of Pembina, R.M. of Prairie Lakes, R.M. of Stanley and the City of Morden.
District Facts & Landscape
Prominent Landscape Features
The Pembina Valley - a glacial meltwater valley, up to a mile wide and 300 feet deep.
The Red River Valley - In the eastern portion of the district, this broad lowland is dominated by heavy clay soils deposited on the bed of Lake Agassiz, again a result of the melting glaciers. Below the Manitoba Escarpment are intermittent low beach ridges of coarse soils and gravel, formed as the lake levels dropped.
The Manitoba Escarpment - This preglacial landscape feature traverses the District in a SE to NW orientation and separates the first prairie level from the Red River Valley. Generally this feature is steep and often managed in a natural landscape or forest grasslands and some wetlands with portions cultivated where flat enough. The slope can be very steep and in the neighbourhood of 30 plus percent grade and in the Miami area there is a 600 foot drop over 11 miles.
The Turtle Mountain Forest Reserve - This block of land is managed primarily as a community pasture. The land covered by the reserve is a rolling arrangement of forest, lakes and sloughs. Water bodies made up a full third of the total area.
William Lake Provincial Recreation Park - William Lake is east of the main Turtle Mountain Provincial Park. It is well-known for its stocked waters which have produced great catches of rainbow trout over the years. It has a swimming beach area, a boat launch and multiple canoe/kayak launching points around William Lake. A playground and horseshoe pitch add to the day's fun.
Geology - Much of the district rests on shale bedrock, often found very close to the ground surface. The shale is loosely structured and very fragmented, so it transmits water very efficiently.
Lakes - Area lakes include Swan, Rock, Pelican, Killarney, Minnewasta are the most significant lakes although many sloughs and other smaller lakes are found throughout the District.
Rivers - The Pembina River is fed by several major creeks including the Badger, Long, Cypress, Crystal, Pilot, Snowflake and Mowbray Creeks. The Plum river system that flows east to the Morris and Red Rivers receive runoff collected by the Deadhorse, Hespeler, Buffalo and AuxMarias waterways. A considerable amount of water enters the district from across the U.S. Border, empties into the Pembina River, and then flows back into North Dakota southwest of Morden. The Pembina watershed is 51% US and 49% Canadian so its truly an international river system and having a good relationship across the border is very important.