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Officials with Rhineland Municipality hope their meeting earlier this month with representatives from the Department of Sustainable Development will bear positive results for them.

Reeve Don Wiebe says the meeting centred on the province's plan to reduce Manitoba's 18 conservation districts into 14 and align them according to the watershed they're located in.

Under that plan, Rhineland would be part of a proposed watershed district that encompasses the rural municipalities of Montcalm to the east and Stanley, Pembina, Louise, Roblin-Cartwright, Killarney-Turtle Mountain and a portion of Boissevain-Morton to the west, all of which are located on the escarpment.

Wiebe says council wanted to make sure the provincial government understands that Rhineland would be in a unique situation inside that watershed.

"Rhineland is unique because of its topography. We're very flat, so we have very little relief in terms of managing water flows. We think that a strategic plan is needed on how to manage that situation."

Heavy snowmelt and rainfall have created flooding challenges for Rhineland and the Municipality of Montcalm in the past. Too much precipitation can rush off the Pembina escarpment at once, quickly flooding drainage ditches and fields when it enters into Rhineland.

Wiebe says 96 percent of the land in Rhineland is arable.

"So, if we're part of a watershed, we're very interested in knowing how that will look for us, and how that will fit with our plans for municipal drains, field drains and also the provincial drains. We'd like to see an integrated plan ... that maximizes our agricultural production."

Wiebe says he was encouraged by the interest officials from Sustainable Development displayed toward their concerns.

Now that they have met with the province on this issue, he suggested the next step might include a meeting with the other members of the proposed watershed where they could discuss strategic plans under the new watershed plan.

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