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Water 2011, 3(1), 217-234; doi:10.3390/w3010217

U.S. Midwestern Residents Perceptions of Water Quality

Department of Sociology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50010, USA
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Received: 29 December 2010 / Revised: 6 February 2011 / Accepted: 16 February 2011 / Published: 21 February 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Non-Point Source Pollution Control and Management)
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Abstract

The plurality of conservation and environmental viewpoints often challenge community leaders and government agency staff as they seek to engage citizens and build partnerships around watershed planning and management to solve complex water quality issues. The U.S. Midwest Heartland region (covering the states of Missouri, Kansa, Iowa, and Nebraska) is dominated by row crop production and animal agriculture, where an understanding of perceptions held by residents of different locations (urban, rural non-farm, and rural farm) towards water quality and the environment can provide a foundation for public deliberation and decision making. A stratified random sample mail survey of 1,042 Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska residents (54% response rate) reveals many areas of agreement among farm, rural non-farm, and those who live in towns on the importance of water issues including the importance and use of water resources; beliefs about water quality and perceptions of impaired water quality causality; beliefs about protecting local waters; and environmental attitudes. With two ordinal logistic models, we also found that respondents with strong environmental attitudes have the least confidence in ground and surface water quality. The findings about differences and areas of agreement among the residents of different sectors can provide a communication bridge among divergent viewpoints and assist local leaders and agency staff as they seek to engage the public in discussions which lead to negotiating solutions to difficult water issues.
Keywords: water quality perception; environmental attitudes; urban-rural differences water quality perception; environmental attitudes; urban-rural differences
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Hu, Z.; Morton, L.W. U.S. Midwestern Residents Perceptions of Water Quality. Water 2011, 3, 217-234.

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