CAMPAIGNS, PERCEPTIONS, AND CONSUMPTION: A MIXED METHODS STUDY OF FRESH WATER MANAGEMENT IN THE INLAND NORTHWEST
Tillotson, Kathryn H.
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Dwindling freshwater resources are one of the largest challenges facing countries worldwide. For regional and local governments the task of managing fresh water resources falls the hardest. Reduced water quantity directly impacts water quality and thus preventing further depletion of freshwater levels is necessary for meeting existing and forth coming water quality regulations. Thus, finding effective ways to better understand water use at the local or regional level and better ways of communicating pressing water management issues with water users is imperative to the longevity of freshwater resources. Environmental communication campaigns are one way of reaching water users. Understanding water users personal relationship with water resources and nature in general can inform environmental campaigns in multiple ways.This research provides insight into the ways in which environmental campaigns can be framed to effectively reach the target audience. Two methods of assessing stakeholder perceptions of water resources are also explored. First, systems thinking is used to compare the mental models of water managers and members of the development sector in order to find areas of common interest and importance regarding the management of freshwater resources in the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene Corridor of northeast Washington and northern Idaho. Second, a survey is used to evaluate characteristics of water use for residents in Spokane County, Washington. This dissertation is centered on three primary research questions: (1) How are environmental communication campaigns framed?; (2) How do stakeholder groups who may appear to have very different values for a shared resource perceive a shared that resource?; (3) How do people's perceptions of nature, environmental issues, and their ability to impact those issues influence the way that they use water? Results of this research show that there are key areas of shared interest between water managers and developers suggesting that long-term water management goals do not have to conflict with the goals of local development. This research also suggests that residents who are willing to perform behaviors to reduce their water use are not necessarily doing so, pointing toward further research questions to bridge the gap between willingness and action.
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