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Canada Water Act Annual Report for April 2010 to March 2011

Public information program (Part IV of the Canada Water Act)

  1. Environment Canada's Water website
  2. Biosphere Environment Museum
  3. WaterSense partnership

Responsible decision making and widespread engagement of the public are critical to successful water resource management. Education and outreach are complementary instruments that are used to encourage water conservation and water quality protection measures. Informational and educational materials can promote responsible behaviour and inform Canadians about the status of our water resources and the health of aquatic ecosystems. Public awareness campaigns, comprehensive websites, information workshops, dissemination of educational programming and materials, and a wide range of field activities are among the many ways in which Canadians and their communities receive information and learn how to act on it. This section describes some of the ways through which Environment Canada and its partners engage Canadians to learn more about the country's water resources and provide information on its sustainable use and conservation at a national level. Public information campaigns are also undertaken at the project level and within specific regions. These activities are discussed throughout the annual report, including in the section on the ecosystem initiatives.

1 Environment Canada's Water website

Environment Canada's Water website continued to provide general information on a wide range of water-related topics, comprehensive educational materials (such as A Primer on FreshWater and various fact sheets),and the full text of key water publications (such as the Canada Water Act Annual Report, the Federal Water Policy, and reports on municipal water use and pricing). In addition, the site provides content on Environment Canada's water-related activities and program areas. During the reporting period, the addition of an extensive “Links” page to each subject area rendered the site a portal to other water-related websites in Canada and across the world.

Environment Canada's Water website was visited almost 419 000 times in 2010–2011, an average of 33 670 visits per month.

2 Biosphere Environment Museum

The only environment museum of its kind in North America, the Montréal-based Biosphere offers enjoyable, educational exhibitions and guided activities to help visitors better understand major environmental issues and learn about living a green lifestyle, whether they live in an urban or rural area. The museum covers areas such as water, air, biodiversity, climate change, transportation, responsible consumption and sustainable development, among others.

In 2010–2011, more than 100 000 people toured the museum's exhibits and/or took part in its off-site activities.

The Biosphere's regular programming includes a number of water-related activities:

  • Drop by Drop, an interactive video conference aimed at high schools across Canada, focusing on water chemistry, pollution, the water cycle and ideas on how to conserve water.
  • Evening seminars on water-related issues, presented free of charge at the Biosphere on World Water Day, in cooperation with the Canadian Museum of Nature.
  • Adopt-a-River, an awareness-raising program for youth aged 11 to 18, coordinated by the Education and Water Monitoring Action Group and supported by the Biosphere and a broad network of coordinators in five provinces. The program celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2010.
  • Sur la piste de l'eau, a guided tour on the St. Lawrence River for 10- and 11-year-olds.
  • All the Water in the World, a scientific activity on the world's water resources.
  • Two exhibitions: Water Wonders and Blue-green Algae.

3 WaterSense partnership

WaterSense is a voluntary, market-based partnership program sponsored by the U.S.Environmental Protection Agency. It works to promote water efficiency and enhance the market for water-efficient products, programs and practices, by helping consumers identify products and programs that meet certain water efficiency and performance criteria.

In January 2011, Environment Canada signed a Promotional Partnership Agreement with the Agency that identifies the roles and responsibilities of each jurisdiction in promoting WaterSense in Canada. Primarily the agreement opens the door for other levels of government in Canada (provincial-territorial and municipal) and other Canadian organizations (trade associations and non-governmental organizations) to secure individual partnership agreements with the Agency, in order to promote WaterSense in their jurisdictions and to their clients. Interested Canadian partners will form a consortium, the primary role of which will be to share information, minimize duplication and develop synergies. Environment Canada will be an active member of the consortium's steering committee, and will provide in-kind services that support the translation and metrification of the promotional information that will be distributed to Canadians online and in print.

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