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Water Literacy

A Growing Need for Wetland Education in Alberta

by Taylor Bujaczek, B.Sc., BIT Biologist

Bullrushes are one of the most commonly recognized wetland species.

Water literacy means having the ability to access knowledge to achieve safe drinking water, healthy aquatic ecosystems, and quality water supplies. According to a report released by the Alberta Water Council, water literacy is essential for Albertans because it promotes stewardship, fosters a healthy attitude towards compliance around water issues and enables the public to provide constructive feedback on government decisions around water.

As of 2016, there were 152 water literacy programs across 65 organizations in Alberta, but only 9% of these discussed issues around wetlands. Furthermore, many non-government organizations typically do outreach in large urban centres rather than in rural areas. Alberta needs water literacy tools that can reach everyone in order to emphasize the value of wetlands and initiate water conversations.

Alberta Water Council. (2016). Recommendations to Improve Water Literacy in Alberta. 1-72

Aquality Environmental Consulting Ltd. began promoting wetland stewardship and water literacy in 2009. Aquality’s wetland course Alberta Wetlands: From Classification to Policy attempts to bridge the knowledge gap across a range of professionals by providing expert insight into wetland classification systems and provincial policy/tools used in Alberta. Over one thousand professionals participated in this award-winning course, and many have expressed interest making online material available.

In 2019 Aquality received a Conservation, Community, and Education Grant from Alberta Conservation Association (ACA) to create a free wetland education video series online. The series derives course material from the Alberta Wetlands: From Classification to Policy course into a tool widely available across the province.

In 2013 the Government of Alberta introduced the Alberta Wetland Policy (The Policy) to “conserve, restore, protect, and mange Alberta’s wetlands to sustain the benefits they provide to the environment, society, and the economy.” The Policy is now in effect for the White (settled areas) and Green (crown-owned) Areas, yet awareness about it is still low.

Tractor stuck in wetland
Don’t get caught stuck in an intermittent wetland because you don’t know how to recognize it! Credit: Jamie Puchinger

The Aquality online course, Alberta Wetlands 101: Online Experience reviews a number of topics, including the Alberta Wetland Classification System and some complex regulatory systems and legislation that govern wetlands. The purpose of this online tool is to provide a barrier-free approach to wetland information, help fill the knowledge gap across Alberta’s professionals and public and to help ensure that Alberta protects wetlands as The Policy intended.

This is a free course that users access through an account with a valid email address. The course features eleven 5-minute videos, and each video has a short corresponding review quiz. Provincial legislation and tools are constantly evolving, and Aquality staff ensures that the public receives the most updated wetland information with all our courses.

As consultants, we encountered many issues around water and compliance, as many people simply “didn’t know” about wetlands or water legislation. Water literacy among Albertans needs improvement to sustain wetland benefits to our society, biota, and economy.

Aquality Environmental

Wetlands are Alberta’s most diverse and complex ecosystems covering about 20% of Alberta’s landscape. Wetlands provide essential ecological goods and services, such as maintaining water supply, supporting native plants, fish, and wildlife, and performing nutrient removal from surrounding lands. Historically, many viewed wetlands as a hindrance to Alberta’s  development, industry, and infrastructure. Some outcomes of that attitude include Infilling, draining, and removal of wetlands for alternate land uses.

Alberta’s wetlands in settled areas have experienced 70% loss over the past 100 years, but with the right tools we can ensure that people recognize and successfully manage existing wetlands for future generations.

To register for our free wetlands course visit

To view and register for other Aquality courses visit