Education and outreach initiatives that inform water users about water conservation programs are needed for a successful program. Even mandatory programs such as watering restrictions are rarely successful without promotion and outreach. The most effective education programs will increase public knowledge about the need for water conservation and the potential benefits of demand management. In addition, these programs should provide information to individuals on how to participate in local conservation initiatives. A good water education and outreach program should:
- Instill conservation habits in water users
- Heighten public awareness of the need to conserve water to the point where other initiatives, such as volume-based pricing and regulation, become acceptable and can be implemented
- Continue awareness through regular public reminders of the need for conservation
- Change values towards a lasting ‘water ethic’
Examples of outreach include providing information on municipal websites or advertising in local media, sending staff or volunteers to community events or into local schools as outreach, or sending mailouts to local businesses. The City of Brooks has taken a multi-faceted approach to water conservation outreach which includes:
- Water Wise Plant Tag Program - to educate and encourage residents to purchase plants that aid in water conservation. Any plant that is native to the Brooks area, or requires little watering, will be marked with a special tag.
- Water Use Scorecard - The City provides residents with the opportunity to assess where and how they use water and their water use efficiency with a Water Use Scorecard. Citizens can then check out the City’s brochure, 100 Ways to Conserve Water, for ideas on how to improve their score.
- Yellowfish Road Program - The City’s Environmental Advisory Committee has partnered with Trout Unlimited Canada to bring the Yellowfish Road Program to Brooks. A variety of youth groups are encouraged to sign out painting kits and paint yellow fish on the storm drains throughout Brooks to remind residents of where the water and items that get washed down the storm drains end up.
- Xeriscaping - The City’s Environmental Advisory Committee and Parks Services Department recently partnered with local Girl Guides to design and plant two flower beds in a City Park with natural and water wise plants. The Xeriscaping Demo Bed is in a highly visible area and residents are encouraged to look at the bed to understand how easy xeriscaping can be, and how much water we can be saved.
For more information or resources regarding education and outreach, please email firstname.lastname@example.org