Looking down on the Boggy River in East Braintree, Manitoba.

We acknowledge that our Manitoba centre is on Treaty 1 territory, traditional lands of the Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene peoples and on the homeland of the Métis Nation. We gratefully get our drinking water from Shoal Lake 40 First Nation. A Rocha’s Boreal Ecology Centre resides in Treaty 3 Anishinaabeg territory.

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Creating A Manitoba Watershed Moment

By Zoe Matties

February 6, 2020

Since BC participated in this interesting exercise, we thought it would be fun to do the same for our Red River Watershed in Manitoba. Ontario has also done the same, which you can view here. Let’s see what we discover by going through these questions together:

1. Where does the recycling in your area go to?

Winnipeg’s recycling heads to the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) where all the paper, cardboard, aluminum, glass and plastic that is put in our blue bins gets sorted for distribution to other companies which make new items out of the recycled product. Each year The MRF processes approximately 53,000 tonnes each year from City of Winnipeg recycling programs. Once the recyclables are sorted and baled by the MRF, which is 90% automated, the bales either stay here in Manitoba (glass and steel) or get sent to other parts of Canada and the USA to be repurposed (plastic, paper, aluminium, milk/juice containers).

Did you know black plastics are not recyclable in Winnipeg? This is because the automated system cannot tell the black plastic apart from the conveyor belt!

What you can do:

Empty and rinse your containers before you put it in the recycling. Leftover foodstuff means contamination and less recyclable material.

Don’t put in plastic bags. These are not recyclable in Winnipeg. Fortunately, many retailers in Manitoba accept used plastic bags.

Ever wonder what can or cannot be recycled? Check out Simply Recycle for tips and tricks!

2. How is organic waste managed in your area?

Unfortunately, the city of Winnipeg does not have municipal organic waste pickup, but Compost Winnipeg does! You can sign up with them to have your household organic waste picked up regularly.

For more information:

Did you know that it’s relatively easy to make or buy your own compost bin for your backyard? This article from the Green Action Centre can tell you all about it.

3. What happens to wastewater in your area?

Winnipeg has three sewage treatment plants in the city. Water and waste flows from our homes and businesses into a series of pipes and then to the sewer system and treatment plants. Unfortunately if there is a lot of rain, the sewers tend to overflow directly into the city’s rivers. These overflows happen, on average, 22 times during the year.

Tips to lessen the strain on your treatment system:

Remember to put only toilet paper or human waste down the toilet. Wipes and related products can clog sewers!

Avoid using garburators/garbage disposal units. Composting is a better alternative and puts less strain on the wastewater treatment system.

4. Where does the electricity in your home come from?

Nearly all of Manitoba’s electricity comes from hydroelectric dams run by Manitoba Hydro. 70% of Manitoba’s electricity is produced by hydroelectric generating stations on the Nelson River in northern Manitoba.

Energy saving tips:

Here is a list of energy saving tips from Manitoba Hydro!

There are many rebates available from Manitoba Hydro to make your home more energy efficient. Check them out here!

MB Hydro Nelson River Generating Station.

5. What direction do heavy rains or winter storms generally come from in your area?

Weather generally comes from the West.

Willow Tree. The bark contains a traditional medicinal compound, salicylic acid, a potent pain and fever reliever.

6. What plant growing locally is known for treating fever, colds, or respiratory ailments?


7. What plants in your area are poisonous?

Poison Ivy, Milkweed, Stinging Nettle, Canada Moonseed, Water Hemlock

Poisonous plant information:

Check out this page from the Manitoba Poison Centre.

The Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility also keeps a detailed database of poisonous plants.

Wild Blueberry.


8. List three types of edible berries of your area.

Blueberry, raspberry, strawberry.

9. Name five native plants that are common in your area.

American Elm, Canada Goldenrod, Bur Oak, Prairie Crocus, Manitoba Maple

Do you enjoy identifying plants?

Check out iNaturalist! You can contribute to biodiversity science and connect with naturalists online through their website or their apps on your iOS and Android devices!

If you haven’t taken the chance to get to know your place, consider embarking on this adventure. Whether through the twists and turns of the Internet, a gravel path, or your own backyard, this is the time to start something new!

May these questions be a fun way to explore your watershed and engage with creation in ways you never considered. Who knows? It could be a watershed moment for you!

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