2nd UF Water Institute Symposium Abstract

Submitter's Name Liz Felter
Session Name Poster Session: Human Dimensions of Water Sustainability 2
Category Human dimensions of water sustainability
Poster Number 106
Author(s) Liz Felter,  University of Florida Extension
  Paul Monaghan,  University of Florida
  Can Social Marketing Educate Consumers About Complicated Behaviors?
  Orange County, Florida is facing a looming water crisis. The St. Johns River Water Management District has determined that the county, which includes metropolitan Orlando, will reach the limit of its consumptive use permit in 2013 and no new groundwater withdrawals will be permitted. This will mean that population growth beyond the current 1.2 million residents will have to secure water from other sources. While the immediate response has been to seek withdrawals from surface water in the St. Johns River watershed, there is also a renewed effort to conserve existing water resources. For many households in the region, the largest waste of water is not in the home but outdoors, in the landscape. Homes with an automatic irrigation system waste the most water. Survey research has demonstrated that homeowners across Florida have a difficult time meeting the demands of their homeowners associations to keep their yard green while understanding the maintenance needs of their lawns and the technology of their irrigation system. The most common response for homeowners is to set their irrigation timer and forget it, not making adjustments based on rainfall or the water needs of the landscape. Traditional public education programs used by County Extension offices face a daunting task when confronted with these complicated behaviors and attitudes. This paper will detail a community based social marketing approach to unraveling the complexities of landscape irrigation and providing homeowners with simple instructions for changing behavior. It will demonstrate that when communities participate in water conservation efforts, they are more likely to change attitudes and increase knowledge among their neighbors and ultimately motivate behavior change.