What's the Dirt?
Aquarium of Niagara
Basin Program Funds:
Soil erosion and sedimentation is an increasing problem in the Great Lakes basin
as urban and suburban development encroaches on previously natural areas such
as wetlands and forests. Local governments and citizens must understand the
impact of development on their water quality if they are to protect it adequately.
Local elected officials do not usually have the necessary knowledge to understand
and appreciate these issues, nor do the citizens who elect them. Therefore pressure
to control soil erosion is not brought to bear on elected leaders.
The Aquarium of Niagara receives a significant proportion of the 5.5 million
tourists who visit Niagara Falls annually. Therefore the Aquarium will create
an exhibit explaining and demonstrating erosion and sedimentation and their
impact on Great Lakes water quality. The proposed display will address a number
of issues such as: the causes of erosion; how it affects individuals and the
ecosystem; the impact of polluted sediment; what is the difference between natural
and human-induced erosion, how can erosion be controlled; and how can individuals
effect change. The display will be supplemented by a take-away brochure.
The Aquarium developed a collaborative advisory committee of staff, consultants,
and volunteer representatives of six partner agencies. The group met regularly
and collected information pertinent to the project. Members of the group also
visited a nearby demonstration farm and research vessel to collect additional
information on soil erosion and sedimentation issues.
The committee reviewed the collected information and decided
which should be included in exhibit modules and the brochure. It also designed
the exhibit and selected a location for it in the Aquarium's exhibit gallery.
With its colorful images, simple graphics and living components, the exhibit
appeals to guests of all ages and backgrounds.
An attractive brochure with a significant amount of clear information
about soil erosion and sedimentation is offered at the exhibit for guests to
take away with them. The brochure has proven to be very popular, necessitating
Aquarium personnel are also conducting an exit survey to measure
the exhibit's effectiveness. Guests are encouraged to complete the survey by
being offered the incentive of a discount at the Aquarium gift shop when they
turn in a completed survey.
Contact: Aquarium of Niagara, (716) 285-3575