In 1868 the government passed a law allowing municipalities to create public drainage works. These were a series of ditches which removed much of the water from the area and directed it into nearby streams and rivers. Over the next 15 years, much of the area, once considered worthless, became valuable land. In Brook and Enniskillen alone, over 800km of drainage works were created. These townships provide some of the best agricultural land in the area.

Simple drains like these help farmers keep the soil relatively dry.
Simple drains like these help farmers keep the soil relatively dry.
Draining the Great Enniskillen Swamp brought about dramatic changes. For the early settlers to the region, draining was a positive change. Once the trees were cleared for timber, agricultural production could begin. The removal of standing water decreased the amount of mosquitoes, protecting people from malaria.

The loss of swamps wasn’t all positive. Swamps act like a giant sponge. When there is too much water, the swamp soaks it and holds it in place. When the surrounding land dries out, the swamp slowly releases the water, providing clean water to places downstream. When the Great Enniskillen Swamp was drained, it resulted in more extreme conditions of flooding and low flow in the rivers downstream. As well, for the wide variety of animals and plants that lived in the swamp, the loss of habitat could never be replaced.

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