What We Know about Water: A Water Literacy Review
|Authors||Definition Provided in Source|
|Ewing and Mills  (p. 37)||“Roth (1991) suggests that functional literacy includes the ability to communicate the substance of an account to another person. In the case of water knowledge, we believe functional literacy entails ability to communicate an accurate understanding of processes such as condensation and evaporation as phase changes of water.”|
|Covitt et al.  (p. 37)||“Possessing an understanding of water in environmental systems is a necessary, though not sufficient, component of environmental water literacy. Understanding how water moves through environmental systems and interacts with other substances is critical for making informed decisions about water at an individual or societal level.”|
|Dolman  (pp. 99–100)||“In 1878, Thomas Henry Huxley involved watershed as a landscape entity or catchment basin, stating it is ‘all that part of a river basin from which rain is collected, and from which therefore the river is fed.’ This definition encapsulates the basic physical definition of a watershed in common parlance today. Our challenge is to move beyond a static, hydrologic definition toward a dynamic understanding of the wholeness of watersheds and how they literally underlie all human endeavors.”|
|Eldridge-Fox et al. ||“level of water-related knowledge… on a local and global scale” and includes things like, where does Ann Arbor water come from, do you drink bottled water, do you conserve, access to water in different countries.|
|Project WET 1 [23,31] (p. xiii)||Seven Essential Principles of Water Literacy: “(1) Water has unique physical and chemical characteristics; (2) Water is essential for all life to exist; (3) Water connects all earth systems; (4) Water is a natural resource; (5) Water resources are managed; (6) Water resources exist within social constructs; (7) Water resources exist within cultural constructs.”|
|Su, Chen and Wang  (p. 518)||“It is suggested that understanding the usage of water, the health implication of water quality, and the overall impacts as a result of water shortage or extreme precipitation should all be part of the curriculum delivered effectively to students of all levels and the general society”|
|Laporte et al.  (p. 3)||“a water literate citizen understands essential principles and concepts about the Great Lakes’ functions and value and can accurately communicate about the Great Lakes’ influence on people and systems. However, what truly makes a person water literate is application of such concepts; making informed and responsible decisions regarding the Great Lakes.”|
|Wood  (p. 7)||“I suggest that a water literate citizen is someone who is informed and knowledgeable about water use and issues, and is applying this knowledge to their values and their actions, whether that is achieved actively or subconsciously”|
|Hensley  (p. 29)||“Watershed literacy is the ability to understand the hydrological systems that make life possible within, and beyond, our water basin. Watershed literacy necessitates the ability to comprehend what a watershed is and “connect the dots” by recognizing the impact that human choices have on local, regional, and global water systems (Hensley 2011). A watershed-literate person can tell you in which watershed he or she lives and articulate the forms of point source and non-point source pollution that affect its integrity, balance, and health. Furthermore, a watershed-literate individual can articulate the opportunities to revitalize, protect, and restore water quality within his or her watershed while knowing how to reduce individual and collective impact.”|
|Duda et al.  (p. i)||“knowledge of and attitudes toward watershed health, knowledge of basic watershed concepts, and activities or behaviors that may impact the watershed’s environment.”|
|Fielding et al.  (p. 6)||“In the current report we will use the term ‘water literacy’ to refer to Australians’ water-related knowledge.”|
|Reenberg  (p. 185)||“In the Global North (www.allianceforwatereducation.org), the notion of water literacy has been developed and defined to mean ‘knowing where your water comes from and how you use it’. This includes but is not limited to, a basic understanding of water footprints, virtual water, groundwater recharge and consequences of over-drafting, how to move and control surface water, competing demands for water, and water conservation... broader notion of literacy is thus perceived as the capacity to assess (a) the impact of spatial and temporal rainfall patterns on the comparative advantage of different agricultural micro-strategies, (b) alternative ways of maneuvering to adapt to site-specific production potentials defined by water, and (c) long-term consequences of contemporary water use strategies”|
|Zint, Kraemer and Heimlich  (p. i)||“a watershed literate individual should be able to: (1) define the term “watershed”, (2) identify their local watershed(s), (3) identify how watersheds are connected to the ocean via streams, rivers, and human-made structures, (4) identify the functions that occur in a watershed (transport, store, and cycle water), (5) recognize that both natural processes and human activities affect water flow and water quality in watersheds, (6) identify connections between human welfare and water flow and quality, (7) identify possible point and non-point sources of water pollution, (8) identify actions individuals can engage in to protect/restore water quality in watersheds, and (9) identify how humans seek to manage watersheds”|
|Otaki, Sakura and Otaki  (p. 36)||“we define water literacy as the ability to feel familiar with water, get actively involved in water and face the issue of water as one’s own issue. Being water literate means understanding how the water we use daily is delivered and treated, as well as knowing the quality and safety of that water, how much water we use daily and exactly what we use it for.”|
|Alberta Water Council  (pp. 6–7)||“Being ‘water literate’ means having an understanding of the significance of water in life, and understanding where water comes from and how to use it sustainably… Water literacy can include aspects of air, water, land and/or biodiversity, which are inter-connected; it can also relate to discussions around sustainable development.”|
|Dean et al.  (pp. 2–3)||“The concept of ‘water literacy’, and other forms of literacy such as health literacy, integrate topic knowledge and the capacity to apply this knowledge to decisions [20,21]. The literature has not identified specific areas of knowledge considered necessary for adequate water literacy. The emerging emphasis on sustainable water management suggests that key areas of individual-level water knowledge include the urban water cycle and impacts of urbanisation on waterway health via stormwater pollution, in addition to issues related to water demand, supply and treatment”|
|Sherchan et al.  (p. 173)||“we see a need for a general education course that focuses on strengthening every student’s understanding of water literacy: its properties, sources, uses, issues, and the implications of these factors for informed decision making in the 21st century.”|
|Huxhold  (p. 2)||“Water literacy… refers to the amount of knowledge one has about the water system; it encompasses knowledge ranging from the state of water system infrastructure, the availability of water in an area, the quality and cleanliness of the water, the types of treatment used, the environmental impact, and what source the water comes from and/or where water goes when the individual is finished using it.”|
|Febriani  (p. 15)||“Water literacy covers basic knowledge of water sources and other aspects that interconnected with it (management and related issues), and being water literate means having a basic understanding of how to use or manage the water sustainably as a manifest of understanding the importance and significance role of water in life”|
|Mackenzie  (p. 18)||“Water literacy is the knowledge one has about the earth’s water sources: how they are used and how to use them”|
|Singh et al.  (p. 153)||“Water literacy is having an understanding of where the water that we consume or use comes from and how we use it.”|
|He  (p. 486)||“water literacy is a composition of necessary water knowledge, scientific water attitude, and normative water behavior... Water literacy, composed of water knowledge, water attitude and water behavior, is related to social economics, living habits, water ecological environment, water conservancy propaganda and education”|
|Roncoli et al.  (p. 575)||“Defined as knowing where your water comes from and how to use it, it denotes an analytical capacity unrelated to formal education or technoscientific expertise, being rather grounded in farmers’ understanding of the interconnectedness of water, natural landscapes, and human practices (Hastrup and Hastrup 2015: 19). Specifically, water literacy entails the ability to assess the impacts of climate variability on water supplies and use, to identify place-specific adaptive options, and to consider their effects on environment and community”|
|Ternes  (p. 349)||“the understanding of water supplies and how water is used”|
|Ripple Effect ||“A water literate person recognizes the impacts of climate change on real people and real communities, understands the role of water in shaping those impacts, and has a strong sense of civic responsibility to help redesign our relations to a changing environment.”|
|Wang, Chang and Liou ||“Water literacy should include variables such as water knowledge, attitude, and appropriate water behavior.”|
3. Defining Water Literacy
4. What We Know about Water Literacy from Surveys
4.1. Student Water Literacy
4.1.1. Student Science and Systems Knowledge
4.1.2. Student Local Knowledge
4.1.3. Student Hydrosocial Knowledge
4.1.4. Student Functional Knowledge
4.1.5. Student Attitudes, Values, and Actions
4.1.6. Student Water Literacy Summary
4.2. Adult Water Literacy
4.2.1. Adult Science and Systems Knowledge
4.2.2. Adult Local Knowledge
4.2.3. Adult Hydrosocial Knowledge
4.2.4. Adult Functional Knowledge
4.2.5. Adult Attitudes, Values, and Actions
4.2.6. Adult Water Literacy Summary
5. Approaches to Improving Water Literacy
6. Discussion and Conclusions
Conflicts of Interest
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McCarroll, M.; Hamann, H. What We Know about Water: A Water Literacy Review. Water 2020, 12, 2803. https://doi.org/10.3390/w12102803
McCarroll M, Hamann H. What We Know about Water: A Water Literacy Review. Water. 2020; 12(10):2803. https://doi.org/10.3390/w12102803Chicago/Turabian Style
McCarroll, Meghan, and Hillary Hamann. 2020. "What We Know about Water: A Water Literacy Review" Water 12, no. 10: 2803. https://doi.org/10.3390/w12102803