Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

March 18, 2011 12:36 ET

The Government of Canada Helps Farmers Improve Water Management Practices

SOURIS, PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND--(Marketwire - March 18, 2011) - Farmers are always looking for ways to improve their farming practices, to increase their productivity and to maintain the sustainability of the environment. The Honourable Gail Shea (Egmont), Minister Responsible for PEI, on behalf of Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, announced an investment of almost $1 million for the new Souris River Watershed project established under phase two of the Watershed Evaluation of Beneficial Management Practices (WEBs) program.

"I'm proud that the Souris River Watershed has been selected as a new WEBs research site," said MP Shea. "The unique farmscape and crop production systems that we have here will offer a wealth of information about the positive impacts of improved water management practices on the environment, and farm income for our farmers."

The investment for this project is part of the $14 million Growing Forward WEBs program.

The WEBs project, the first of its kind in Canada, was established in 2004 at seven small agricultural watersheds in order to better understand and assess the environmental and economic benefits of beneficial management practices (BMPs). Previous to this study, the costs and environmental benefits of BMPs had seldom been measured. Results from these projects will provide a foundation for understanding the broader applicability of these BMPs within a specific region. Farmers will then be able to use this knowledge to maintain high agricultural productivity, while minimizing the impacts of farming on the environment. Results will also be used in planning future agricultural policies and programming.

The new Souris River Watershed project will cover a unique landscape in a province that had not been included in the project during phase one. The two BMPs studied at this site include: nutrient loading effect of spring versus fall plough-down of legume crops prior to a potato crop; and comparison of managed versus unmanaged riparian zones. The team will examine how these practices can have a positive impact on surface water, groundwater, stream and riverbank health.

Over 70 other federal, provincial, academic and non-governmental organizations are also partners in this project which will run until 2013.

For more information about the WEBs project, please visit:

To find out more about Growing Forward and its initiatives, please visit:


The Watershed Evaluation of Beneficial Management Practices (WEBs) is a multi-disciplinary project, comprised of experts in agricultural, environmental and watershed research; economics; hydrology; and modelling. These expert skill sets come from a variety of different organizations including universities and colleges, conservation groups, provincial government departments, municipal governments, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and other federal departments. The diversity of skills resulting from these partnerships is one of the project's greatest strengths.

Interest in the project from partner organizations has resulted in the leverage of significant additional resources. More than 70 organizations are currently involved in WEBs and have provided technical assistance or in-kind support to the WEBs watersheds listed below.

When the project was launched in 2004, there were seven watersheds. In 2009, the Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island watersheds were added to WEBs to build on its past success by strengthening the national network of watershed-scale laboratories to measure the impact of various Beneficial Management Practices.

The nine regional WEBs watershed sites are located in areas of historical benchmarking, where long-term background conditions and trends at the watershed level are well understood. The watersheds in this study and their partners include:

Salmon River, near Kamloops, BC

  • Salmon River Watershed Society

  • University of Victoria (Department of Biology, NSERC Industrial Research Chair Program, Water and Aquatic Sciences Research Program)

  • Fraser Basin Council Society

  • British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture and Lands

  • British Columbia Ministry of Environment

  • BC Agriculture Council

  • Thompson Rivers University

  • Canadian Wheat Board

  • Westwold Livestock Association – a local association of the BC Cattlemen's Association

Lower Little Bow River, near Lethbridge, AB

  • County of Lethbridge

  • University of Alberta

  • Alberta Sustainable Resource Development

Pipestone Creek, near Moosomin, SK

  • Lower Souris River Watershed Committee

  • University of Alberta

  • University of Saskatchewan

  • Saskatchewan Watershed Authority

  • University of Guelph

  • University of Regina

  • Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture

  • Indian Head Agricultural Research Foundation

South Tobacco Creek/Steppler, near Miami, MB

  • Deerwood Soil and Water Management Association

  • University of Guelph

  • University of Alberta

  • Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives

  • Manitoba Water Stewardship

  • University of Manitoba

South Nation, near Ottawa, ON

  • South Nation Conservation

  • Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

  • University of Ottawa

  • Public Health Agency of Canada

  • INRA - French National Institute for Agricultural Research

  • Université de Bourgogne (University of Burgundy), France

  • University of Calgary

  • University of Alberta

  • Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

  • Agri-Drain (USA)

  • McGill University

  • North Carolina State University (USA)

  • Lincoln University (New Zealand)

Bras d'Henri and Fourchette, near Quebec City, QC

  • Club de fertilisation de la Beauce

  • Research and Development Institute for the Agri-Environment (Institut de recherche et de développement en agroenvironnement - IRDA)

  • Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS) - Eau Terre Environnement Research Centre

  • McGill University

  • Université Laval

  • Ministère de l'Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation du Québec

  • Ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement et des Parcs du Québec

  • Canadian Space Agency

  • Fédération de l'UPA de la Côte-du-Sud

Black Brook, near Grand Falls, NB

  • University of New Brunswick

  • Université de Moncton - Eastern Canada Soil and Water Conservation Centre

  • New Brunswick Department of Agriculture and Aquaculture

  • New Brunswick Department of Environment

  • Potatoes New Brunswick

  • PEI Department of Environment, Energy and Forestry

  • Université de Sherbrooke

  • Research and Development Institute for the Agri-Environment (Institut de recherche et de développement en agroenvironnement - IRDA)

Thomas Brook, near Kentville, NS

  • Nova Scotia Agricultural College

  • Cornwallis River Headwaters Society

  • Dalhousie University

  • Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources

  • Acadia University

  • AgraPoint International

  • Canadian Water Network - Pathogens in Groundwater Research Consortium

Souris River, near Souris, PEI

  • PEI Wildlife Federation - Souris and Area Branch

  • Nova Scotia Agricultural College

  • PEI Department of Environment, Energy and Forestry

  • PEI Department of Agriculture

  • University of PEI – Department of Biology

  • Canadian Rivers Institute 

Other partners also include:

  • Ducks Unlimited Canada

  • Environment Canada

  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada

  • Health Canada

  • Natural Resources Canada

  • AAFC's National Agri-Environmental Health Analysis and Reporting Program (NAHARP)

  • USDA's Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP)

Contact Information

  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Media Relations
    Office of the Honourable Gerry Ritz
    Meagan Murdoch
    Press Secretary