4th UF Water Institute Symposium Abstract

Submitter's Name Emily Ott
Session Name Poster Session: Science, stakeholders and decision-making
Poster Number 15
Author(s) Emily Ott,  UF Agricultural Education and Communication (Presenting Author)
  Paul Monghan,  UF Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology
  Stacie Greco, Alachua County Department of Environmental Protection
  Mirka Koro-Ljungberg, UF School of Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education
  Sebastian Galindo, UF Agricultural Education and Communication
  Qualitative Social Research for Communicating Water Conservation
  Not all research questions pertaining to human behaviors such as landscaping and water use are best answered by quantitative inquiry. Qualitative social research can be a valuable tool for understanding perceptions, values, and water use behaviors. This understanding can be used to develop relevant messaging that can influence pro-environmental behavior change such as increasing water conservation in residential landscapes. One case study illustrates how qualitative inquiry can be used to develop communication strategies to influence water conservation behaviors. Focus group research among high water users in western Alachua County (within the Santa Fe River springshed) revealed these residents were concerned about future water security. Despite their concern these residents did not feel personally responsible for future water quantity and quality (i.e. security). The ways residents discussed their concern and their lack of control over water quantity and quality provided valuable insights to researchers. These insights have practical implications as they can be used to better communicate the importance of outdoor water conservation at least among these residents. Implications will be discussed including: - communicating both the collective impact of residential water users and impact of individual residences on water security, - changing norms of outdoor water use on a neighborhood scale, and - utilizing informal communication networks including champions or “water stewards.”