Watershed Indicators: Contributions of the public to customize a generic index to local needs
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The purpose of this research is to examine the ways in which public contributions, as part of a larger public participation program, can shape the use of the Canadian Water Sustainability Index (CWSI) and increase its relevance to the communities for which it is used. A case study in the Clear Lake watershed in Riding Mountain National Park (RMNP), in Manitoba, was undertaken in which stakeholder and partner perceptions, knowledge, concerns and priorities were gathered through a questionnaire and interviews from August to November 2009. This information provided a lens through which the CWSI could be viewed regarding its social relevancy. Public consultation highlighted four main areas of interest upon which indicators can be focused: bottled water use; well water reliance; water conservation and efficiency; and communications. While the identification and development of indicators will be led primarily by RMNP, the indicators will be used in monitoring, reporting, and communicating within the watershed community. Socially relevant indicators are intended to complement scientific indicators concurrently being developed for the Clear Lake watershed. Public participation increased the relevancy of the CWSI to suit local needs, although the participative process was limited by time, complexity of the information, and a necessarily broad survey.