What's the Dirt?
Niagara Falls, NY

Grantee: Aquarium of Niagara
Basin Program Funds: $15,000
Non-federal Funds: $21,367
Project Duration: 06/1998 - 05/1999
Status: complete

Problem Statement
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.

What's the Dirt?

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 restocking daily.

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


Great Lakes Commission des Grands Lacs.  2805 S. Industrial Highway, Suite 100.  Ann Arbor, MI  48104-6791.  phone: 734/971.9135.  fax: 734/971-9150.  projects.glc.org. Join the Friends of the Great Lakes GLIN Partner