"We're all downstream." - Ecologist's motto adopted by Margaret & Jim Drescher, Windhorse Farm, Nova Scotia
The Seine River's source is in the sandy soils of Sandilands Provincial Forest Southeast of Steinbach. As the tiny river meanders across the prairie landscape the watershed drains into tributaries and into the Seine. It continues through towns and villages, passing over dams and diversions until it reaches the outskirts of the City of Winnipeg at the Red River Floodway.
"Irrigation of the land with seawater desalinated by fusion power is ancient. It's called rain. " - Michael McClary
The Seine River's Watershed, the area where run-off flows into the Seine River, has been reduced by over 25% over the years. The Watershed has lost the run-off from 330 square kilometers that now drain into either the Red River Floodway or directly into the Red River. A separate 110 square kilometers of run-off has been intercepted and diverted to fill the man-made, Lake Riviera. The water from the remaining 1190 square kilometers of watershed is what hopefully reaches the Siphon at the Red River Floodway.
At this point the river is forced through the Seine River Siphon. The siphon is a 'U' shaped pipe that allows a maximum of 4.5 cubic meters of water per second (cms) to pass 457 meters under the Red River Floodway. If more than 4.5 cms of water reaches the siphon it spills over a weir into the Red River Floodway. Floating debris may block the small opening of the Seine River Siphon further reducing the 4.5cms that could enter the siphon. Logs and branches can accumulate against the metal grill until only a trickle can continue. (The Seine River's capacity is 13 cms.)
In both the rural and urban portions of the Seine River many property many stakeholders draw water for various purposes. Property owners along the river use insignificant amounts of river water to water gardens or lawns. More significantly large users like one of the five golf courses along the Seine are permitted (by the Water Resources Branch), to draw up to 284,000 liters per day.
Save Our Seine is working on installing artificial rapids called Riffles that will hold back some of the river water. The velocity of the precious amount of water that enters the City will be slowed reducing erosion and bank instability. The result will be higher water levels within the City for longer periods of time. During higher river levels like spring or early summer, the water will simply pass uninterrupted over the structures. Water forces naturally create deep pools near the Riffles. This will add to the quality of fish habitat and all aquatic life, either plant or animal.
[Describing the Seine River], "a stagnant algae choked mosquito breeding cesspool and lifeless ditch." - Save Our Seine (1994)
Other than Water Quantity, Water Quality is another important factor for a healthy river environment. Visible pollution like garbage and debris can be removed by Citizens through "Cleanings.'
Invisible pollution like contaminants are not so easy to reduce and eliminate. As the Hydrological Cycle indicates after a rainfall, surface run-off 'cleans' the ground in the watershed and ends up in the Seine River. Pollution and toxins can enter the river many ways and from many sources. Chemicals used by agricultural or industrial practices, or sewage treatment within the watershed can contribute to degraded water quality. In the urban environment the concentration of impermeable surfaces (roads, parking lots, roofs, etc.) makes runoff quicker and can drastically raise river levels. Within the Urban Watershed, lawn chemicals, domestic pet waste, soaps, solvents and other pollutants can end up in the river.
SOS is planning to regularly monitor the water quality at various locations along the Seine River. Levels of pollutants can be determined and hopefully sources of pollution can be determined. At the grass-roots level, the information gathered over time will encourage residents of the Seine River's Urban Watershed to take greater care in what they contribute to the Seine River Environment.
"Throughout the history of literature, the guy who poisons the well has been the worst of all villains..." - Author unknown
Sharon Gurney, Environment Officer for Manitoba Conservation, stated the following in the Seine River Greenway Study:
"Clean water is essential for the health of the aquatic life in the river. Although the quality of the river is generally good, at times water quality is degraded by human activities. Water pollution in the Seine River Watershed originates from a number of sources. During rainfall or snow melt, contaminates such as pet feces, oil, soil, litter, lawn fertilizers and pesticides, are carried off Winnipeg streets and deposited into the river through storm sewers. Before the river reaches the City, it travels through a large agricultural region. During rain storms, livestock waste, fertilizers and pesticides can be washed into the river. In addition, treated wastewater from town lagoons (Lorette) are deposited into the river during ice-free period.
Within the City of Winnipeg extensive encroachment of the Seine River has resulted in increased pollution loading. Recent environmental concerns have been identified with respect to the river being used as a dumping ground for construction material and residential garbage. Low flow conditions in the river have exacerbated the water quality problems along its reach.
Although it is unlikely the Seine River can be restored to pristine conditions, we must ensure that human influences do not unacceptably impact the quality of the water in the river. The abundant insect and fish life in the river assure us that the quality of water is generally good."