4th UF Water Institute Symposium Abstract

Submitter's Name Caroline Roper
Session Name Poster Session: Science, stakeholders and decision-making
Poster Number 11
Author(s) Arthur Leal,  Graduate Student
  Caroline Roper,  Graduate Student (Presenting Author)
  Courtney Owens, Graduate Student
  Understanding the public: Utilizing perceptions to change water conservation behaviors
  Understanding public perceptions of conservation practices is vital in the development of a well-informed public that is willing to engage in conservation behaviors. Research shows that although the public is aware of some of the water shortages and conservation issues, they become increasingly aware during times of crisis; such as, droughts and ecological disasters. Research also shows that members of the public are willing to practice some conservation practices such as installing low-flow shower heads and irrigation sensors. Although they are willing to engage in these types of conservation behaviors, the public are reluctant to acknowledge their own connection to existing water issues. By understanding the public’s perceived attitudes toward conservation as well as their involvement in current conservation practices, water providers can better frame and communicate with the public about their actions and encourage them to practice new water conservation behaviors. Currently, a certain level of distrust exists between water providers and consumers, which has caused a disconnect with current water issues. Although the public engages in selected conservation behaviors, encouraging them to adopt new behaviors has been challenging. For water providers, understanding the knowledge gap and public attitudes toward water conservation is crucial when engaging the public in new conservation behaviors. Creating new communication initiatives to improve the communication between the water industry and the public will help reduce the existing disconnect, resulting in more awareness and realization of current water issues. The development of strategic communication, concerning water conservation practices, will encourage the public to engage in new water conservation practices and increase their awareness surrounding water issues. Communication efforts will also help reconnect the public to the water industry, leading to more informed decision-making by the public.