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Abstract

The mechanisms of private-well groundwater contamination are uniquely complex, necessitating a multisector communicative approach to risk management, premised on behaviour promotion. In countries such as the Republic of Ireland (ROI), characterised by oftentimes high groundwater contamination risk and concurrently limited user awareness, incorporation of multidisciplinary, ‘expert-based’ knowledge may facilitate design of evidence-based, practical interventions. Expert interviews represent an efficient form of expert consultation, enabling ease of access to niche information and comparison of procedure, but remain under-utilised within the groundwater management literature. In response, the current study elicited opinion from 50 experts across four broad categories (communications, engineering/science, policy, and risk assessment) via a mixed-methods interview study. Semi-structured qualitative interviews were undertaken with experts from the ROI (n = 25) and European/North American countries (n = 25) and examined using thematic (qualitative) and bivariate statistical (quantitative) analyses. Experts noted financial cost, knowledge and social norms as primary barriers to adopting private-groundwater and other health risk-prevention behaviours. Lack of organisational knowledge as a communication barrier was significantly related to expert category (p = 0.034) and highlighted by a majority of communications experts (95%) compared to policy (75%), risk assessment (67%) and engineering/science (50%) experts. The most frequently suggested communication activities comprised events (24%), radio segments (22%), workshops (24%) and community meetings (30%), allied with family-oriented, discursive approaches to information delivery. Study findings may be used by both national (Irish) and international stakeholders in myriad hydrogeological contexts to develop educational outreach strategies and contribute to the existing groundwater-management-knowledge base.

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... LAs) are required, as evidenced in EPA private supply reports (EPA, 2015;2017b;2020b;. Current lack of longstanding departmental structures and monetary funding, and limitations in organisation knowledge specific to SPS issues, for example, represent key hinderances to long-term well-stewardship promotion and enforcement (Mooney et al., 2020). As such, a key recommendation of this research is that a specific governance organisation is formed to provide overarching guidance and support for SPSs nationally, and to work alongside LAs at the regional and community levels. ...
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Regulatory frameworks to ensure municipal drinking water safety exist in most North American jurisdictions. However, similar protection is rarely provided to people reliant on water provided from private wells. In Canada, approximately 4 million people depend on privately owned, domestic wells for their drinking water. Numerous studies have shown that people who rely on private wells for their water supplies are at risk from nitrate and bacterial contamination. Given the fact that regulations relating to private wells tend to be weak or poorly enforced, actions taken by well owners to protect their own drinking water safety are extremely important. Drawing on one of the largest and most comprehensive surveys of private well owners ever conducted in Canada or elsewhere, this paper explores factors that influence well owner stewardship behaviour. Key behaviours examined included annual testing of well water and inspection of wells, measures to protect water quality, and proper decommissioning of unused wells. A geographically-stratified survey, sent to 4950 well owners in Ontario, Canada, resulted in an effective response rate of 34% (n = 1567). Logistic regression analyses revealed that motivations for well stewardship behaviours included reassurance, the perception of problems, and knowledge of the environment. Knowing how to perform stewardship behaviours was an important antecedent to action. Barriers to stewardship included complacency, inconvenience, ignorance, cost, and privacy concerns. To promote stewardship, local initiatives, better educational materials, and enforcement through real estate laws are all required. Ultimately, drinking water safety for people reliant on private wells is shown to be a responsibility shared by governments and private well owners.
Article
Groundwater contamination constitutes a significant health risk for private well users residing in rural areas. As the responsibility to safeguard rural private domestic groundwater typically rests with non-expert homeowners, interventions promoting risk mitigation and awareness represent the most viable means of preventing supply contamination. However, no global review or pooled analyses of these interventions has been undertaken to date. The current study sought to identify and quantify the performance of private well interventions from 1990 to 2018 via a global systematised review and pooled analysis. The PICO (Population-Intervention-Comparison-Outcome) approach was employed for literature identification. Relevant studies were statistically analysed across two quantitative outcome (performance) types, namely knowledge and behaviour, controlling for intervention characteristics and country development status. Mean behavioural and knowledge attainment across interventions was 53% and 48%, respectively, with interventions in economically developed regions exhibiting higher behavioural outcomes (56% vs. 45%) than those in developing regions. Geographically, interventions were located in southern or southeast Asia (n = 23), North America (n = 15), Central America (n = 1) and Africa (n = 1), with none identified in Australia/Oceania, Europe, or South America. Behavioural outcomes were significantly associated with presence of educational/research coordinator (p = 0.023), with these interventions attaining higher levels of efficacy (+74%) than those implemented by other coordinator types. Findings indicate that instructor-led, practical interventions allied with both large- and local-scale awareness-raising campaigns represent an optimum approach for future private well risk interventions. Subsequent adoption of such interventions may lead to increased levels of private well maintenance and provide a point of reference for myriad water and health communication contexts.
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At present one of the greatest barriers to reducing exposure to naturally occurring arsenic from unregulated private well water is a lack of well testing. The New Jersey Private Well Testing Act (PWTA) has since 2002 required testing during real estate transactions. Due to limitations in relying on individual well owners to take protective actions, such state-wide testing regulations have been shown to make a significant contribution towards exposure reduction. This study examines the New Jersey PWTA as a case of testing requirements successfully adopted into law, and failed attempts to pass equivalent requirements in Maine for comparison. Although New Jersey’s long history of drinking water quality problems due to population density, an industrial past, and vulnerable aquifers was the root of the PWTA and earlier local testing ordinances, several high-profile events immediately prior focused public and legislator attention and mobilized environmental advocacy groups to gain political support statewide. Viewed through Kingdon’s Multiple Streams framework, the PWTA was the result of problem, policy, and politics streams successfully aligned during a significant and unique political window of opportunity. In Maine, where naturally occurring arsenic, not industrial contamination, is the primary concern, private sector opposition and a conservative administration resistant to government involvement in “private” well water, all played a role in blocking legislative attempts to require testing. A modest education and outreach bill without testing mandates passed in 2017 after compromise among stakeholders. For policy to be an effective tool to achieve universal well water screening, a philosophical evolution on the role of government in private water may be necessary.
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A significant body of research has focused on the role of domestic wastewater treatment systems (DWWTSs) as sources of human-specific aquatic contaminants in both developed and developing regions. However, to date few studies have sought to investigate the awareness, attitudes and behaviours of DWWTS owners and the efficacy of associated communication initiatives. The current study provides an examination of a public national engagement campaign undertaken in the Republic of Ireland which seeks to minimise the impact of DWWTSs on human and ecological health via concurrent inspection and information dissemination. Overall, 1634 respondents were surveyed using a ''before and after" study design to capture if and how awareness, attitudes and behaviours evolved over time. Findings suggest that whilst the campaign provided a modest baseline to raise general awareness associated with the basic operational and maintenance requirements of DWWTS, there has been little or no behavioural engagement as a result, suggesting a significant awareness-behaviour gap. Accordingly, efforts to minimise potential human and ecological impacts have been unsuccessful. Moreover, results suggest that public attitudes towards water-related regulation and policy became increasingly negative over the study period due to parallel political and economic issues, further complicating future engagement. Future strategies , both in Ireland and further afield, should focus on health-based demographically-focused message framing to achieve significant knowledge and attitudinal shifts amongst specific population cohorts, and thus bring about significant behavioural change. Study findings and recommendations may be used by myriad stakeholders including local, provincial and national authorities to effectively engage with individuals and communities prior to and during implementation of legislative and policy-based instruments within numerous spheres including climate change adaptation, environmental quality, hydrological risk, and hydro-ecology.
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On-site wastewater treatment systems (OWTS) are designed to collect, filter, and release treated wastewater effluent back into the natural environment. If these decentralized systems are not properly installed or regularly maintained, or are spatially distributed at densities that exceed the landscape’s ability to safely treat wastewater effluent, groundwater can become contaminated. We examine in this paper the evolution of state-level policies regulating on-site wastewater management in the State of Wisconsin (USA). We also present a spatiotemporal analysis of on-site wastewater systems installed in a metropolitan county within southeastern Wisconsin. Findings show: 1) advances in OWTS technologies, coupled with regulatory policy changes, have reduced the influence of physiographic constraints on exurban housing development, 2) over 7,000 on-site wastewater systems are unevenly distributed across the county’s landscapes, and 3) several OWTS clusters are at high enough densities to threaten groundwater quality, potentially posing public health risks from polluted private well-water. Groundwater contamination risk was assessed, county-wide, by using GIS overlay analysis to compare septic system density (greater than 2.0 systems per acre) with groundwater vulnerability. Our spatial analysis identified several “hot spots” that may warrant groundwater monitoring and OWTS inspections to limit potential health impacts. This method of analysis can help public sector planners design context-sensitive policies to manage unsewered housing development within the rural landscape.
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Private well stewardship, including on-going testing and treatment, can ensure private well users are able to maintain source-water quality and prevent exposures to potentially harmful constituents in primary drinking water supplies. Unlike municipal water supplies, private well users are largely responsible for their own testing and treatment and well stewardship is often minimal. The importance of factors influencing regular testing, and treatment behaviors, including knowledge, risk perception, convenience and social norms, can vary by geography and population characteristics. The primary goals of this study were to survey a general statewide population of private well users in Wisconsin in order to quantify testing and treatment patterns and gather data on motivations and barriers to well stewardship. The majority of respondents reported using and drinking well water daily but only about one half of respondents reported testing their wells in the last ten years and of these, only 10% reported testing in the last 12 months. Bacteria and nitrates were contaminants most often tested; and, a private laboratory most often conducted testing. The most commonly reported water treatment was a water softener. Living in a particular geographic region and income were the most significant predictors of water testing and treatment. Iron and hardness, which influence water aesthetics but not always safety, were the most commonly reported water quality problems. Health concerns or perceived lack thereof were, respectively, motivators and barriers to testing and treatment. Limited knowledge of testing and treatment options were also identified as barriers. Results confirm previous findings that well stewardship practices are minimal and often context specific. Understanding the target population's perceptions of risk and knowledge are important elements to consider in identifying vulnerable populations and developing education and policy efforts to improve well stewardship.
Chapter
This chapter presents an overview of the recent literature on the persuasive effects of public communication campaigns. The scope of the review is substantial, ranging from traditional media to new technologies and from US settings to developing countries. The campaign topics primarily deal with health promotion, along with prosocial behavior and environmental reforms. The chapter examines key theoretical concepts, processes, and strategic guidelines, including campaign design, evaluation (formative, process and summative), types of effects (direct and indirect), messages (prevention vs. promotion vs. informational vs. persuasive, and appeals), message sources, mediated communication, and quantitative dissemination factors. The chapter then illustrates these guidelines with three campaign foci: drug use, smoking, and risky drinking.
Chapter
The expert interview as a method of qualitative empirical research, designed to explore expert knowledge, has been developed considerably since the early 1990s. A number of readers has been published1 and thus a gap in the methods’ literature has been dealt with, much to the benefit of many disciplines and fields of research in the social sciences. It can be assumed that through increased reflection on methodical issues research into experts’ knowledge has gained in professionalism and quality.2
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Educational outreach programs have the potential to increase the occurrence of private well testing and maintenance behaviors, but are not always able to successfully engage the intended audience and overcome their barriers to change. We conducted a review of literature regarding behavior change and risk communication to identify common barriers to private well stewardship and motivational strategies to encourage change, as well as best practices for communicating with well owners. Results indicated that no specific strategy will be appropriate for all audiences, as different groups of well owners will have different barriers to change. For this reason, educators must develop an understanding of their audience so they are able to identify the most significant barriers to change and select motivational strategies that will directly reduce barriers. Implications for private well outreach programs are discussed.
Article
Maximum contaminant levels created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Safe Drinking Water Act do not apply to private wells. Rather, the onus is on individual households to undertake regular water testing. Several barriers exist to testing and treating water from private wells, including a lack of awareness about both well water as a potential source of contaminants and government-recommended water testing schedules; a health literacy level that may not be sufficient to interpret complex environmental health messages; the inconvenience of water testing; the financial costs of testing and treatment; and a myriad of available treatment options. The existence of these barriers is problematic because well water can be a source of hazardous contaminants. This article describes an initiative undertaken by the Tuftonboro (New Hampshire) Conservation Commission, with support from state agencies and a research program at Dartmouth College to increase water testing rates in a rural region with a relatively high number of wells. The project prompted more water tests at the state laboratory in one day than in the prior six years. This suggests that community-driven, collaborative efforts to overcome practical barriers could be successful at raising testing rates and ultimately improving public health.
Chapter
Expert interviews are a good example of the way in which the everyday practice of social research and theoretical consideration of this practice do not always run parallel to one another. The use of particular methods sometimes precedes their general theoretical reflection. For many years, the widely held view was that expert interviews were conducted frequently but only rarely thought through (Meuser and Nagel, 1991). Only in recent years has the debate about expert interviews gradually become more concrete (see Bogner and Menz, 2008). However, this has certainly not led to a situation in which the different definitions and methodological conceptions of expert interviews have moved closer together. Even today there are disputes not only about how expert interviews can be placed on a secure methodological footing, but also about whether this is even possible in principle.
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Water management has always required more than physical science. This paper reviews the accomplishments of integrating social with physical sciences for water management in the last 50 years. Particular successes are highlighted to illustrate how fundamentals from both physical science and social science have been brought together to improve the performance of water management systems. Some forward-looking lessons for managing practical and academic interdisciplinary research for water management also are provided. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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As an emerging field of study, strategic communication is unique in that it requires integration of concepts, theories, and methods from diverse disciplinary domains. This integration is necessary to fully understand and explain the complexity of the phenomenon. As an observable manifestation of strategic communication, the campaign has received considerable attention across subdisciplines; however, no conceptualization of the strategic communication campaign as a distinct process has been forwarded, and no general theory has emerged to explain strategic communication campaigns or predict their outcomes. This article posits a definition of strategic communication campaigns that privileges the multidisciplinary capacity of the field and is distinct from other perspectives. In addition, an overview of current theoretical approaches that inform strategic communication campaigns is provided.
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Water level monitoring provides essential information about the condition of aquifers and their responses to water extraction, land-use change, and climatic variability. It is important to have a spatially distributed, long-term monitoring well network for sustainable groundwater resource management. Community-based monitoring involving citizen scientists provides an approach to complement existing government-run monitoring programs. This article demonstrates the feasibility of establishing a large-scale water level monitoring network of private water supply wells using an example from Rocky View County (3900 km(2) ) in Alberta, Canada. In this network, community volunteers measure the water level in their wells, and enter these data through a web-based data portal, which allows the public to view and download these data. The close collaboration among the university researchers, county staff members, and community volunteers enabled the successful implementation and operation of the network for a 5-year pilot period, which generated valuable data sets. The monitoring program was accompanied by education and outreach programs, in which the educational materials on groundwater were developed in collaboration with science teachers from local schools. The methodology used in this study can be easily adopted by other municipalities and watershed stewardship groups interested in groundwater monitoring. As governments are starting to rely increasingly on local municipalities and conservation authorities for watershed management and planning, community-based groundwater monitoring provides an effective and affordable tool for sustainable water resources management. © 2015, National Ground Water Association.
Article
Over the past nearly 30 years, a flood of work on risk communication initiatives and analyses has appeared. And yet the practice of risk communication by corporations, federal agencies, and ideal government in many respect seem little changed from practice decades ago. The time is overdue to address some tough questions for the architects and craftsmen who shape and implement the practice of risk communication. This retrospective proceeds with four major questions:What major successes and failures can we point to that shed light on what has been learned and not learned since the 1989 NRC report?Assessing and communicating uncertainty often befuddles decision-makers and risk managers. How are these needs handled, and how well, in current practice and analysis? How can we do better?While risks are an inescapable part of the governance and democratic process, the reservoir of social trust is and has been in long-term decline. How successfully is declining trust handled in risk governance processes?Can the lessons learned and answers to the above be translated into a new list of principles for risk communication going forward?We take up these four questions in sequence.
Article
Thornton, Teresa and Jessica Leahy, 2012. Trust in Citizen Science Research: A Case Study of the Groundwater Education Through Water Evaluation & Testing Program. Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) 48(5): 1032-1040. DOI: 10.1111/j.1752-1688.2012.00670.x Abstract: Data collected by citizen scientists, including K-12 students, have been validated by the scientific community through quality assurance/quality control tests and publication of results in peer-reviewed journal articles. However, if citizen science data are to be used by local communities, research is needed to determine which factors contribute to local community member trust in citizen science data, and how to increase the benefits and use of citizen science programs. This article describes the Groundwater Education Through Water Evaluation & Testing (GET WET!) program that employs middle and high school students, state and local government employees, environmental nongovernmental organization leaders, business representatives, college faculty and students, and other volunteers as citizen scientists to create a database of groundwater quality for use as a baseline for local water resources management. Data were gathered through semi-structured interviews pre- and post-involvement from 40 participants in this citizen science program conducted in five states in the northeastern United States. Results indicate that factors of trust are largely based on interpersonal trust and familiarity. We conclude with recommendations and future research that may improve local community member willingness to trust citizen science data generated by students.
Article
Arsenic is a class I human carcinogen that has been identified as the second most important global health concern in groundwater supplies after contamination by pathogenic organisms. Hydrogeological assessments have shown naturally occurring arsenic to be widespread in groundwater across the northeastern United States and eastern Canada. Knowledge of arsenic risk exposure among private well users in these arsenic endemic areas has not yet been fully explored but research on water quality perceptions indicates a consistent misalignment between public and scientific assessments of environmental risk. This paper evaluates knowledge of arsenic risk exposure among a demographic cross-section of well users residing in 5 areas of Nova Scotia assessed to be at variable risk (high-low) of arsenic occurrence in groundwater based on water sample analysis. An integrated knowledge-to-action (KTA) methodological approach is utilized to comprehensively assess the personal, social and local factors shaping perception of well water contaminant risks and the translation of knowledge into routine water testing behaviors. Analysis of well user survey data (n=420) reveals a high level of confidence in well water quality that is unrelated to the relative risk of arsenic exposure or homeowner adherence to government testing recommendations. Further analysis from the survey and in-depth well user interviews (n=32) finds that well users' assessments of risk are influenced by personal experience, local knowledge, social networks and convenience of infrastructure rather than by formal information channels, which are largely failing to reach their target audiences. Insights from interviews with stakeholders representing government health and environment agencies (n=15) are used to reflect on the institutional barriers that mediate the translation of scientific knowledge into public awareness and stewardship behaviors. The utilization of local knowledge brokers, community-based networks and regulatory incentives to improve risk knowledge and support routine testing among private well users is discussed.
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This paper describes a risk governance model applied on a local scale, showing the advantages and constraints found during its application. The risk governance model, built on a municipal scale, results from the application of the International Risk Governance Council framework. The model is characterised by the cyclicity between the assessment and management spheres, assuming communication to be essential in all stages. Its application in central Portugal is rooted in a specific knowledge of hazards and their impacts, the human and financial constraints, and the expectations of citizens and stakeholders. The results show that preformatted management solutions derived from national civil protection stakeholders can be adapted to a local physical, social and institutional context. It was found that this depends significantly on the stakeholders’ concerns assessment, as this allows the subsequent risk management options to be adapted and legitimised. As a result, more appropriate land-use regulations and mitigation strategies are being designed, which are related to urban planning, road design, risk sensitisation and communication tools. However, two features are likely to lead to an overlapping of competences and conflicts concerning responsibility for decision-making in the actual civil protection structure: the current constraints on resources on an operational level and the potentially inadequate representation of stakeholders on a strategic level.
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This paper argues that positive social capital underpins the key factors identified by Ostrom (1990) in self-governance systems. The paper discusses the different types of social capital from a social network perspective and empirically analyses social capital in the context of two neighboring aquifers in central Spain. It examines the type of institutional arrangements that foster or hinder the creation of social capital by discussing in turn, bonding and bridging social capital with particular reference to water user groups, taken as classic collective management institutions, illustrating also the role leaders play as linking social capital and catalysts (or obstacles) in the creation and blending of different types of social capital. It concludes that social capital is differentially embedded in social networks and that careful institutional design can help foster strong ‘positive’ social capital, which in turn favors self-governance in groundwater. It also stresses the dynamic nature of social capital through time and its productive aspect in terms of incentivizing social learning and collective action in groundwater management.
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As penalties for corporate and personal risk increase, communicating risk-related information can be a daunting challenge. Communication must be targeted, understandable, and effective without inadvertently provoking hostility and mistrust. This handbook presents strategies and guidance for conveying risk information effectively. In this second edition, readers get the latest updates on pertinent topics--including current laws, approaches, computer applications, stakeholder participation methods, and ways to evaluate effectiveness. All-new sections explain how to work with the media and represent risks pictorially. With the second edition readers will benefit even more by getting contemporary, practical advice on what to do and what to avoid for successful risk communication.
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Numerous studies have highlighted and quantified the role of domestic wastewater treatment systems (DWWTSs) as significant sources of human-specific aquatic contaminants in both developed and developing regions, particularly with respect to private and municipal groundwater supplies. However, from a socio-hydrological perspective, little work has focused on these systems and the potential environmental and human burden posed. This is of particular relevance in the Republic of Ireland, where approximately one third of the population is serviced by DWWTSs. The objective of the current study was to examine levels of awareness and subsequent behavioural tendencies among owners and users of DWWTSs in the Republic of Ireland, particularly in light of recent and future (national and EU) legislative amendments. Structured questionnaires were completed bi-modally with 1106 Irish respondents. Analysis identified a number of significant knowledge gaps which currently exist among DWWTS users in Ireland. These were associated with environmentally inadvisable behavioural practises, potentially leading to increased contamination vulnerability and subsequently, increased human exposure to waterborne contaminants. Household water supply type was significantly associated with DWWTS threat acknowledgement (p = 0.014), with unregulated private groundwater users exhibited the lowest awareness of DWWTS as a potential source of aquatic contaminants despite being the group at greatest risk. A bi-modal clustering approach was employed, with respondents found to fall into one of three distinct "attitudinal" clusters. Future engagement strategies should strive to provide guidance regarding the role of people and their activities within the hydrological cycle. The current study reinforces this conclusion, while providing evidence-based recommendations regarding provision of demographically focused educational strategies; these will further increase environmental policy compliance, and in so doing, decrease the human health and environmental contamination burden posed by DWWTSs.
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A better understanding of the processes that influence public perception can contribute to improvements in water management, consumer services, acceptability of water reuse and risk communication, among other areas. This paper discusses some of the main variables involved in public perception of drinking water quality. Research on this topic suggests that perceptions of water quality result from a complex interaction of diverse factors. In many circumstances, the estimation of water quality is mostly influenced by organoleptic properties, in particular flavour. In addition, a variety of other factors also have an influence on perceptions of quality. These include risk perception, attitudes towards water chemicals, contextual cues provided by the supply system, familiarity with specific water properties, trust in suppliers, past problems attributed to water quality and information provided by the mass media and interpersonal sources. The role and relevance of these factors are discussed in detail.
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Improvements in groundwater management require strategies to change human behaviour, yet there has been limited social research in the broad arena of groundwater management. This paper provides a critical review of the small but expanding literature on that topic to identify future directions for social researchers. Comprehensive search methods identified almost three hundred potentially relevant publications, which were sorted thematically and assessed in terms of their theoretical underpinning and the evidence used to support key findings. This process enabled the authors to identify a small number of high quality publications and to identify future research opportunities. The latter includes analysing how concepts of risk and sustainable yield are constructed differently by stakeholders, especially related to divisive issues concerning coal seam gas developments and reforms that reduce irrigation allocations; how governance arrangements can be improved to achieve more effective collaborative management of groundwater, especially if managed aquifer recharge is to be more widely implemented in rural agricultural contexts; and the role that trust and social norms can play in changing groundwater use practices.
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This is the third edition of the essential introductory text for all students of qualitative research. Each chapter has been fully updated in terms of references and reading lists.
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Complacency about drinking water security was the order of the day in the Province of Ontario, Canada, until the water supply of the community of Walkerton was contaminated in May 2000. Seven people died and 2300 became seriously ill when runoff from a nearby livestock farm contaminated an improperly constructed municipal well. The Walkerton tragedy, and similar incidents that have occurred in Ontario and elsewhere in North America and Europe during past decades, reflect serious implementation gaps in groundwater protection. In Ontario, many of these implementation gaps relate to shortfalls in local and provincial management capacity. Some local organizations are well served with skilled staff, leaders committed to groundwater protection, effective policies and plans, and sound databases. Unfortunately, many are not, particularly smaller communities in rural areas. Existing implementation gaps were exacerbated in the mid-1990s when the provincial government increased the responsibilities of local agencies while at the same time cutting funding and staffing levels in its own Ministry of the Environment. Recent local and provincial initiatives are beginning to close some implementation gaps. However, key challenges remain. This paper explores factors that shape local capacity for groundwater protection, and highlights ways in which capacity-related implementation gaps may be addressed. The focus is experiences in Ontario, Canada. However, lessons learned are broadly transferable. Chief among these are the importance of financial and technical support for delineation of source water protection zones; legal requirements for source water protection; senior government commitment and leadership; and enhanced local awareness of, and participation in, groundwater management.
Article
While new environmental policies and procedures often are developed incrementally, they can also result from crises or other significant events. In situations where policies and procedures are introduced in response to a crisis, questions about the strengths and weaknesses of existing mechanisms, and the extent to which they can be used to address concerns, may be ignored. This paper explores the complexities of introducing new policies and processes where planning systems and procedures already exist. Drinking water source protection policies that are being developed in response to the tragic events in Walkerton, Ontario, Canada serve as the context for the inquiry. Three case study watersheds were selected to reflect the diversity of municipal jurisdictions and water supply systems in Ontario. A content analysis was undertaken on regulatory and non-regulatory policy documents to determine the extent to which they addressed elements of the multi-barrier approach for drinking water safety. Findings from the research reveal considerable evidence of the multi-barrier approach in the policy and guiding documents analyzed. Policy development in response to a crisis can advance progress on the issue of drinking water safety and coincide with emerging governance strategies. Policy effectiveness may be enhanced by considering existing policies as well as contextual and jurisdictional differences.