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This study examines the results of a random sample survey of Texans evaluating citizen awareness, attitudes, and willingness to adopt water conservation practices. The study investigates changes in public attitudes following the most intense one-year drought on record in Texas by evaluating public perception of water availability, assessing Texans’ attitudes and perceptions regarding drought conditions, and comparing the number of Texans adopting practices to conserve water before and after the drought of 2011. Almost 70% indicated that the likelihood of their area suffering from a prolonged drought was increasing. More than 61% of respondents have changed the way their yard is landscaped and 62% have also adopted new technologies in an effort to conserve water. Overall, responses indicated that Texans are concerned with water availability after experiencing, in 2011, the worst one-year drought on record, and that the majority of respondents are taking personal action in an effort to conserve water for the future.
Water quality standards are developed to protect and define when waterbodies support their designated uses including public water supply, recreational use, aquatic life use, and others. Recreational use categories include various activities that typically do not occur under similar hydrologic conditions making protection of all uses challenging. This paper presents a case study where Escherichia coli concentrations were grouped by flow rate to demonstrate potential effects of developing use-specific water quality standards for contact recreation. Adopting this approach requires a shift from current water quality policy which applies to all hydrologic conditions; however, it also requires additional data collection on actual usage types and occurrence before it can be implemented. This paper demonstrates that implementing an alternative water quality standards approach can still reasonably protect human health while minimizing taxpayer cost to restore impaired waterbodies.
Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) and the nexus approach are tools to identify solutions for water problems across interdependent sectors with interacting social and natural systems. Although both tools aim at solutions for complex water issues using an interdisciplinary approach, IWRM is a management process and the nexus approach is a systems tool to characterize problems. By clarifying their attributes and providing examples, instructors can use them to explain broad social problems and offer practical frameworks for problem-solving. Given their breadth, IWRM and the nexus approach can seem vague and attract criticism, but if they are replaced, the need for them will endure. The concepts are explained, and similarities between them are explored in the paper. Case study sources for them are identified, and the cases are classified by the processes of water resources management as applied across related sectors. How the concepts and their corresponding case studies can be used will vary by context. Suggestions are made for interdisciplinary instruction and discussions in disciplinary settings.
Bankfull is a concept that is intimately tied to the annual flood series through the well-accepted tenet that bankfull discharge occurs at approximately the 1.5-year recurrence interval on the annual series. Thus, due to this association the annual series provides a useful diagnostic tool for helping to identify the bankfull elevation in the field. The partial-duration series does not provide an equivalent tool because paired discharge and recurrence interval values from the flood frequency curve depend upon the minimum threshold selected for developing the partial-duration series. However, the interpretation that bankfull discharge occurs on average once every 1.5 years, or two out of every three years from that bankfull discharge/recurrence interval relationship on the annual series is incorrect. Frequencies of small floods (those with recurrence intervals ≤10 years) should be obtained using the partial-duration flood series because it contains a more accurate representation of the size and frequency of small events. We used discharge data from 11 streams in West Virginia watersheds that ranged from about 0.14 to 223 km2 to compare the two series and to illustrate the variability in small flood frequencies through time. Flooding to the bankfull stage was absent some years but occurred as many as four or five times during other years.
Significant challenges in the provision of safe drinking water and appropriate, effective sanitation remain in the United States, particularly among communities with few financial resources and/or situated in challenging terrain. Though previous formal research is limited, anecdotal reports suggest that some households in Appalachia may rely on untreated, unregulated roadside “springs” as a primary source of potable water. This effort monitored the water quality at twenty-one of these springs in Central Appalachia and identified potential motivations for this behavior through volunteer surveys in order to better define community challenges and to establish communication for future outreach. The majority (>80%) of spring samples collected were positive for E. coli, indicating a potential risk of exposure to waterborne pathogens; measured concentrations of metals and nutrients were generally in accordance with USEPA recommendations for drinking water. Survey respondents generally had a piped source of in-home water available yet primarily collected the water due to “taste” and “quality/health” and used it directly for drinking. Multiple respondents included extra written information indicating that they either did not trust their in-home water source or considered it unreliable. Collectively these results suggest that these roadside springs do serve as a regular source of household water for some communities though they generally do not meet federal drinking water standards. Future efforts are encouraged to work with local municipal water authorities to rebuild community trust and/or to determine whether on-site treatment at these springs is
Recent legal cases have suggested that contaminated seeps and/or springs that have measurable impacts on adjacent surface water quality may fall under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act (CWA). An improved understanding of the effects of groundwater seeps on surface water quality is needed to support the evolving legal and regulatory environment. Surface seeps or seepage zones are locations where upwelling groundwater saturates the surface. Seeps can provide groundwater that may be transported to nearby surface waters along surface and shallow subsurface flowpaths. From a water quality perspective, seeps can provide portholes to observe groundwater quality. Here we consider examples of seeps as contaminant sources or sinks across a range of watershed disturbance and synthesize the seep water quality literature to help answer the questions: Why do seeps act as contaminant sinks in some cases and contaminant sources in others? What areas of seep water quality research can help apprise the legal and policy discussion on the role of the CWA to address groundwater contamination that is conveyed to streams? Overall, the case studies and literature review indicated that seep water quality data can provide valuable insights into the effects of stream-groundwater interactions on stream water quality. Future work on seep-surface water interactions is needed to characterize seep water quality behavior across a range of hydrogeological, meteorological, and land-use conditions to better understand the locations where seeps are more likely to convey contaminants to streams and affect stream water quality.
Natural resource professionals increasingly recognize that water protection and restoration efforts require not only technical solutions, but also the active engagement of stakeholders who live and work in the local community. People of color, and those of lower income brackets, are frequently underrepresented in water-related programming or decision-making, although they are often disproportionately affected by water problems. Effective engagement of diverse community members in water programs and projects requires understanding and addressing constraints to action. We conducted 25 interviews with community members who live or work in a highly urbanized Minnesota watershed to explore perceived obstacles to community engagement in local water resource protection and restoration. Based on self-reported race, ethnicity, and general community engagement level, interviewees were assigned to one of three “stakeholder groups” for comparative analysis: formal decision-makers, active white community members, and active community members of color. Qualitative analysis of responses revealed perceived constraints to engagement common to all three groups: inaccessibility and invisibility of water, lack of local leadership in water issues, and limited community dialogue about water problems and solutions. Additional constraints were perceived uniquely by community members of color: cultural constraints around water uses, recreation, action, and inequities or disenfranchisement in community decision-making processes and water programming. Study findings suggest partnership building is needed for collaboration in designing civic engagement programs
and improving water protection and restoration projects.
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