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Evaluation of Freshwater Programs under the Action Plan for Clean Water

Conclusions

The findings of the evaluation lead to the following broad conclusions about the relevance, design and delivery and performance (effectiveness, efficiency and economy) of the Freshwater Programs.

4.1 Relevance

4.1.1 Continued Need for the Program

1) The evaluation evidence indicates that there is an ongoing need for the Freshwater Programs to support remediation and maintenance of priority aquatic ecosystems.

2) While not available when the Freshwater Programs were implemented, the Department’s current PEIMF identifies the Great Lakes as a priority ecosystem and Lake Winnipeg as a hotspot, with no similar designation for Lake Simcoe.

4.1.2 Alignment with Federal and Departmental Priorities

3) Freshwater Programs are consistent with current federal and departmental priorities. The Government of Canada continues to move forward on its Action Plan for Clean Water.

4) The Freshwater Programs align well with Environment Canada’s strategic goal to ensure that Canada’s natural environment is conserved and restored for present and future generations.

4.1.3 Consistency with Federal Roles and Responsibilities

5) Freshwater Programs are consistent with federal and departmental roles and responsibilities, particularly with respect to transboundary waters (Great Lakes and Lake Winnipeg) and they leverage federal strengths in governance and science. The federal government does not have a similar mandate in Lake Simcoe, given that the lake boundaries are within Ontario.

4.2 Program Performance: Design and Delivery

6) The Freshwater Programs’ overall approach is appropriate, given the unique attributes and challenges facing each of the targeted aquatic ecosystems.

7) The Freshwater Programs’ design and delivery elements are adequate to ensure the achievement of most program outputs and immediate outcomes. However, current resource levels may be inadequate to ensure the achievement of intermediate outcomes.

8) The evaluation results identify a number of opportunities for program enhancements to component program activities to streamline processes and better address challenges and emerging needs within the targeted aquatic ecosystems, as well as the need to coordinate with other jurisdictions and federal partners.

9) While an RMAF was prepared for the Freshwater Programs in 2008, there is currently no performance reporting at the program-wide level. Performance reporting with respect to contribution agreements is adequate.

4.3 Program Performance: Achievement of Program Outcomes

10) The evaluation evidence indicates progress toward the achievement of immediate outcomes, although progress has not been consistent across all program components or outcomes areas. There is also some preliminary evidence towards the achievement of intermediate outcomes.

11) Stewardship projects in the Lake Winnipeg and Lake Simcoe basins have contributed to the reduction or diversion of phosphorus and nutrients loading through point and non-point source/habitat projects. While the impacts of LWBSF and LSCUF on their respective aquatic ecosystems are considered to be marginal, given the overall volume of phosphorus and nutrients entering the watersheds on an annual basis, in many instances these contributions are expected to be cumulative over time.

12) Progress in the remediation of sediment in the Great Lakes is mixed. There has been significant progress in three AOCs; however, for the remaining five AOCs the original timelines and cost estimates are no longer realistic due to a number of unanticipated challenges in characterizing the sites and difficulties in securing community funding.

4.4 Program Performance: Efficiency

13) The program leverages monetary and in-kind contributions from an array of collaborators, as well as other contributions such as expertise, volunteer hours and networks. The administrative efficiency of the LWBSF and LSCUF components of the Freshwater Programs are in line with other contribution programs at EC. Potential improvements to the efficiency of program delivery would include a streamlined application process through reduced bureaucratic processes.

4.5 Program Performance: Economy

14) The Freshwater Programs are having some measureable success in some areas, though intermediate and ultimate outcomes are difficult to assess. No alternative, more effective approaches to the Freshwater Programs are available at this time, though there may be some more economical methods to distribute funds for stewardship (e.g., through larger grants to third parties or existing funding mechanisms at the regional or provincial level). In addition, a broader scoping of the interventions available to restore lake quality was also offered as an alternative approach (e.g., addressing lake quality through more broad-based policy interventions, preventative models).

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