Take action: Tell Manitoba’s environment minister to accelerate phosphorus compliance

Take action: Manitoba’s environment minister needs to hear from you!

We need your help.

The City of Winnipeg’s proposed timeline for biological nutrient removal (BNR) at the North End Water Pollution Control Centre (NEWPCC) was publicly released on April 22. Unfortunately, the city’s report does not present a feasible path to achieving phosphorus compliance using BNR at Winnipeg’s largest sewage treatment plant.

Manitoba Environment and Climate Change’s Environmental Approvals Branch is currently reviewing the City’s submission. This is a critical opportunity for lake-lovers to speak up for the health of our shared waters by demanding accelerated phosphorus compliance to protect Lake Winnipeg.

Excessive phosphorus drives the growth of harmful algal blooms in freshwater ecosystems – and NEWPCC is the single largest point source of phosphorus to Lake Winnipeg.

Environment and Climate Change Minister Tracy Schmidt has the authority to amend NEWPCC’s provincial operating licence to require that the provincial phosphorus limit of 1 mg/L be met through chemical phosphorus reduction as part of the new biosolids facilities project. Doing so will ensure that evidence-based protections for Lake Winnipeg are included within the scope of current tri-government funding agreements for NEWPCC upgrades.

A chemical phosphorus-reduction system proposed by LWF and our partners in 2019 will be up and running at NEWPCC by the end of May, 2024. This system is already outperforming expectations and will get NEWPCC closer to the 1 mg/L phosphorus limit.

This system, integrated with new biosolids facilities at NEWPCC, can be designed to achieve phosphorus compliance. Similar chemical phosphorus reduction systems are in use at wastewater treatment plants across the country. It’s time to implement this proven, cost-effective, and feasible solution in Winnipeg.

how you can help

Send an email to Environment and Climate Change Minister Tracy Schmidt. Remind her of her responsibility to protect Lake Winnipeg. Urge her to amend NEWPCC’s provincial operating licence to accelerate phosphorus compliance within the scope of currently funded projects.

Here is an example of an effective message:

“Dear Minister Schmidt,

I am writing to you to express my concern and frustration with ongoing delays in achieving phosphorus compliance at Winnipeg’s North End Water Pollution Control Centre (NEWPCC).

NEWPCC remains non-compliant with the phosphorus limit set out in its provincial operating licence almost 20 years ago, because the provincial requirement for biological nutrient removal is cost-prohibitive. Meanwhile, Lake Winnipeg continues to suffer.

A chemical phosphorus reduction system will soon be operational at NEWPCC. This method is a proven, affordable solution to address phosphorus pollution. Together with NEWPCC’s new biosolids facilities, chemical phosphorus reduction can be designed to achieve phosphorus compliance.

As Manitoba’s minister of Environment and Climate Change, I urge you to amend NEWPCC’s provincial operating licence to require phosphorus compliance through chemical phosphorus reduction as part of the new biosolids facilities project.

As a lake-lover and a voter, I expect my government to make cost-effective, evidence-based decisions to safeguard the health of our shared waters. Amending NEWPCC’s licence makes possible a realistic solution to a long-standing problem.

I would appreciate a reply to this email. 


Your name” 

Enough is enough. We expect urgency, transparent and accountability from our elected leaders. Join us as we use our collective voice to speak up for our shared waters.


Manitoba’s government first set the conditions of NEWPCC’s operating licence in 2005 – among them, a requirement that the total phosphorus concentration in the plant’s wastewater effluent not exceed 1 mg/L. Almost 20 years later, NEWPCC remains non-compliant with this limit.

On March 7, 2024, LWF, the Lake Winnipeg Indigenous Collective and the International Institute for Sustainable Development sent a joint letter to Environment and Climate Change Minister Tracy Schmidt in which we reiterated our concern over the lack of a feasible plan for phosphorus compliance.

We pointed out one of the biggest roadblocks preventing progress: the discretionary provincial requirement that the City of Winnipeg implement biological nutrient removal at NEWPCC. Biological nutrient removal is a prohibitively expensive system. The most recent cost projection of $828 million dates back to 2018; in the intervening six years, costs have increased higher due to inflation and other market changes.

Equally problematic: no funding agreements are in place to share this exorbitant cost – nor does any federal funding program exist for infrastructure projects of this scope. To date, only $18 million has been allocated to the city’s nutrient removal facilities project, by the City of Winnipeg for preliminary design work. Without secured funding, the completion timelines projected in the City’s latest plan are not feasible. The City’s own constructability review acknowledges that funding availability is “currently one of the most critical schedule risks.”