The practices and decisions of Lewiston and Auburn residents regarding lawn care have a profound impact on stormwater runoff pollution and local water quality. In order to mitigate the substantial effects of these pollutants on waterways, it is critical for local residents to develop an understanding of best management practices (BMPs) which they feel compelled to implement in order to minimize the effects of stormwater pollution on water quality. With a five-year permit cycle for stormwater runoff put forth by the state, the Androscoggin Valley Stormwater Working Group (AVSWG) is contractually tasked with performing educational outreach in the community regarding the importance of stormwater runoff pollution, and with evaluating these educational outreach efforts to ensure that local residents are adequately understanding the BMPs they can adopt to minimize stormwater pollution.
Our research on water pollutants, survey design, and behavioral change theory allowed us to produce a survey aimed at assessing residents’ lawn care decisions and at assessing stormwater pollution awareness and outreach efforts in the Lewiston and Auburn area. The survey we created will be sufficient to meet the upcoming permit requirements and to help determine behavioral trends in relation to the adoption of lawn care BMPs, the effectiveness of previous AVSWG educational outreach efforts, and the existing barriers to the adoption of BMPs. Central to our survey design process was the popular and heavily cited behavioral change theory developed by M. Fishbein and I. Ajzen (2010), the Reasoned Action Approach, which locates behavioral intention as the closest predictor of behavior implementation and identifies attitudes, norms, and behavioral control (both perceived and actual) as primary factors to examine which structure a person’s behavioral intent. To inform our survey construction, we also conducted interviews with local residents and pretested an initial version of the survey on several Bates College faculty members. After making revisions, we have produced a final version of the survey which will be distributed to residents of Lewiston and Auburn door-to-door in the coming month, as well as generated hypotheses as to the effectiveness of the AVSWG’s educational outreach efforts surrounding stormwater pollution. The initial information we have gathered via the framework of the Reasoned Action Approach on residents’ attitudes, norms, and perceived and actual control over their lawn care decisions both allow us to begin analyzing the effectiveness of the AVSWG’s educational outreach efforts, and to begin identifying leverage points which future education and outreach efforts could target. Our research has allowed us to create a set of conceptual tools which the AVSWG may continue to use in the coming years.
Barker, Nicholas; Foster, Courtney; and Levine, Theodore, "Urban Residents' Adoption of Stormwater Best Management Practices: Final Report" (2018). Community Engaged Research Reports. 63.