Established in 1978, the Westlake Watershed District focuses on conserving, sustaining, and preserving all of its diverse resources through the management of watersheds and agriculture.
Lying along the west shore of Lake Manitoba, the district encompasses approximately 3,397 km2 with more than 600 km of order in council infrastructure drains. The district includes the Rural Municipalities of Alonsa, Lakeshore and Mossey River.
The beef cattle industry dominates the local economy along with a considerable involvement in commercial fishing in the winter months.
WWD's varied program activities, such as Channel Maintenance, Crossing Repair and Replacement Program, Fisheries Enhancement Project, Forage Seed Program, Wildlife and Sustainable development Educational Extension Program are all a part of managing the environment in a way that meets both the watershed and the community’s needs in a sustainable, healthy way.
The WWD strives to promote stewardship of our land and water resources to ensure a healthy and prosperous lifestyle for all watershed residents, now and in the future. In doing so the District assists the province to achieve these goals and objectives in Manitoba’s Land and Water Strategy. Watershed Districts’s operate under the authority of The Watershed District's Act.
Westlake Watershed District (previously known as Alonsa Conservation District) has always been involved in soil and water management, with its initial establishment being to deal with issues pertaining to agricultural drainage.
The district originally encompassed 2,680 km2. In April 1999, the majority of the RM of Lakeshore joined the existing district, bringing the new area to the present 3,397 km2.
In December 2014, WWD completed the Westlake Integrated Watershed Management Plan (WIWMP) which focuses on employing watershed-based decision-making. This provides an opportunity to address water quality, water quantity, community, and habitat issues beyond municipal boundaries, allowing a focus on cumulative impacts of land use practices in the watershed.
Also in 2014, the district added GIS equipment to its assets, allowing the organization to complete ground survey work more efficiently. In 2016, the district acquired an eBee RTK surveying drone, now allowing the completion or aerial surveying for quick and easy data collection.
On January 1st, 2020, Manitoba’s 18 Conservation Districts became 14 Watershed Districts with the proclamation of the Watershed Districts Act. This legislation brings important changes into effect for Manitoba’s Watershed Districts. As described by the Province of Manitoba, The Watershed Districts Act has:
The Watershed Districts Act empowers the new Watershed Districts to take the next steps to build Manitoba’s resilience to floods, droughts, climate change, nutrient loading, and more.
In addition to the new legislation, Manitoba’s Watershed Districts have access to new resources to get more done on the landscape. Watershed Districts are key delivery agents for the Conservation Trust created in 2018 and are currently the sole delivery agents of the Growing Outcomes in Watersheds (GROW) Program announced in 2019.