Let's Go to The Beach
This week is National Clean Beaches Week, and it's going to be a hot one, folks! Take advantage of the heat in Manitoba by visiting one of our many beautiful beaches this week. During our hot prairie summers, hitting the beach has become a Manitoba past time.
Manitoba's sandy beaches
If you’re someone who opts for laying out in the sand over jumping off cliffs, you’re lucky to be in Manitoba. Lake Winnipeg is home to some of the province’s prettiest and sandiest beaches. Some of Manitoban's favourite sandy hot spots include Grand Beach, Winnipeg Beach, Gimli Beach, and Patricia Beach. These shorelines are extra great if your beach experience also means building a sandcastle. Grand Beach even hosts a sand sculpture content every summer, which is always a huge hit.
Beaches are good for our economy
Lake Winnipeg supports an important recreational and leisure industry. Beaches, cottages, all-season recreation, tourism, and ecotourism contribute an estimated $110 million per year to Manitoba's economy.
Simply put, that small fee you pay to enter our provincial parks and that ice cream you buy while lounging under the sun all go back into helping our province thrive.
A worry for our sandy beaches
Nutrients provide food for the lake's ecosystems. However, excess nutrients (primarily phosphorus and nitrogen) increase the frequency and severity of algal blooms. These blooms can make beaches unsuitable for recreational activities and produce toxins that are dangerous to humans and animals.
How do these nutrients enter our lakes? Well, from us. Our everyday habits have been adding excess nutrients to the lake for decades. Phosphorus enters our water through fertilizers, manure, different household detergents, sewage, and waste.
Every year, we put about 8,000 tonnes of phosphorus into Lake Winnipeg, and only a small fraction of that actually leaves the lake; the rest of it just sits there, causing damage. The highest percentage of phosphorus to Lake Winnipeg comes from the Red River, with about half originating in the U.S. and half from Manitoba. That means that Manitoba must lead by example, and work with our neighbours to reduce nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) loading.
To find more fun facts about our water and what you can do in your day-to-day to make a change, check out our “What’s Your H2O IQ?” document here.
When it comes to making sure we’re being water-friendly at the beach, there are small things that each of us can do to have a big impact on our lakes.
While you are soaking in the sun, please:
Put waste, litter, and food scraps in appropriate bins. If a bin is overflowing, take a walk along the shore to another one where your waste won’t fall out and end up in the water.
Don't bathe in the water, even with biodegradable soap.
Avoid feeding the birds, as their wastes add to the nutrient load in the water.
If you own a cottage near the beach, you can have an even greater impact on the fight to preserve our lakes. Please review our guide Do What Matter at The Cottage document for some tips.
We hope you enjoy a safe and fun beach season. Don't forget to lather on the sunscreen, visit some local vendors while you’re there, and keep a safe social distance from others.