Save Our Lake in a Clamshell: A Five-Year Review

Introduction: “Save Our Lake in a Clamshell” encapsulates five years of concerted efforts by the Grindstone Cottage Owners Association (GCOA) and the SOUL initiative to protect Lake Winnipeg and its watershed. Here’s a snapshot of our journey from inception to the present.

Year 1: 2006

  • Initiative Launch: The SOUL Challenge was introduced around the South Basin, encouraging donations to the Lake Winnipeg Research Consortium (LWRC).
  • Community Engagement: GCOA contributed $500, and an additional $600 was raised at our display table. This significantly boosted awareness about the LWRC’s work and Namao’s purpose.
  • Outreach Efforts: Developed a list of phosphate-free cleaning products, liaised with the LWRC, and distributed 80 color posters promoting our challenge. Media coverage included a CBC interview and articles in local magazines.

Year 2: 2007

  • Continued Advocacy: GCOA’s AGM focused on environmental issues through breakout sessions, advocating for responsible shoreline activities.
  • Educational Outreach: A new educational package on shoreline development and phosphate-free products was distributed around the South Basin.
  • Public Engagement: Continued articles in the Cottager magazine, quarterly pieces in the Gazette, and quizzes about the lake.

Year 3: 2008

  • Strategic Initiatives: Launched the “Go Greener Grindstone” plan, approved by GCOA, and conducted a water survey with support from the Manitoba Water Stewardship Department to improve water usage habits among cottagers.
  • Educational Development: Partnered with CPAWS and Water Stewardship to produce 400 Green Action Reference Guides for local cottagers.

Year 4: 2009

  • Project Challenges: Submitted a project for federal funding to assess our natural wetland and potential engineered solutions for phosphorus reduction, which ultimately needed to be funded.
  • Community Science Engagement: Established a special award at the Manitoba Schools Science Symposium, inviting students to explore scientific activities on the Namao.

Year 5: 2010

  • Regroup and Forward: After a brief hiatus, continued networking and educational initiatives, including a water workshop attended by SOUL.
  • Board Representation: SOUL’s consistent fundraising and community efforts led to an invitation to join the LWRC board as a representative of the general membership.

Looking Ahead:

  • Continued Advocacy: GCOA reaffirms the importance of the wetland assessment project. Negotiations with contaminant scientists are ongoing, and alternative funding sources are being explored.
  • Educational Support: SOUL continues to support the GCOA’s educational initiatives, emphasizing the need for increased funding for these programs.

Student Engagement: SOUL sponsors awards at the MSSS, highlighting the improving quality and complexity of student projects related to lake conservation.

Through these efforts, SOUL and the GCOA have demonstrated that grassroots actions can significantly impact environmental stewardship. We remain committed to saving Lake Winnipeg and fostering a sustainable relationship with our natural surroundings.