Human Development

The total human population in the Lake Winnipeg watershed has grown to nearly seven million. As our communities grow, so have our actions affecting the health of the Lake Winnipeg watershed.

For example, when we drive our cars, the burning of fossil fuels releases pollution. This pollution enters the atmosphere and then falls to the surface with rain, entering our watershed. Also, the generation of electronics, pharmaceuticals, and paint waste can lead to water contamination if not properly recycled.

Our day-to-day activities impact water

We impact water through direct sources, such as industrial or waste treatment plants (point source) and things entering our waterways over the land (non-point source.)

Nutrients that enter our water may harm humans and aquatic life. Excess nutrients can cause algal growth in Lake Winnipeg.

The effects of water pollution depend on its kind and where it occurs. Industries, wastewater treatment plants, and individual actions can pollute water near cities and towns.

Reducing pollution can decrease the harm done to our watershed.

Water pollution caused by human activities

How does the human population affect our watershed?

Social Impacts on Water

Pollution from humans can affect aquatic habitat by disrupting the natural food web. Toxins such as lead and mercury are eaten by small organisms, which are later consumed by small fish and shellfish.

Fish, birds, and mammals higher on the food chain are then affected. Because of this process, they can be killed by the pollutants in their habitat.  Gradually, a high concentration of these substances build up within the tissue of an organism, and it could be life threatening.

Eventually, humans are affected by this process since we are at the top of our food chains. People can get sick by eating poisoned seafood or drinking contaminated water. We all have a role to play in ensuring toxins and excess nutrients do not enter our waters.

 
 

Examples

  • One drop of oil can render up to 25 litres of water unfit for drinking.

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  • A mowed lawn is considered a hard surface. It can harm the lake in two ways. First, fertilizers and pesticides escape into the water. Second, the roots are so shallow it allows topsoil (and your land) to slowly wash into the lake.

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  • Pharmaceuticals and personal care products such as antibiotics, fragrances, and soaps can contain chemicals that can act as endocrine disruptors. When these products enter our waters, they can affect the health of aquatic species.

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  • The soil and silt that enters the lake after running off your property can 

    • block sunlight

    • destroy aquatic plants

    • cover fish spawning areas

    • increase drinking water costs

    • make swimming less enjoyable

Humans affect aquatic habitat

 
 

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