This study examined the ability of four 30-min television (TV) episodes to affect viewers’ understanding of, and engagement in, fresh water recharge, conservation, and reuse. We used questionnaires to examine changes in viewers’ perceived understanding, interest, and motivation after watching episodes at in-person screenings during September 2019 (average 27.5 attendees and 19.5 respondents per episode screening). In general, perception of skills and engagement increased after viewing the episode, and viewers reported a willingness to take action themselves as well as to pledge support for the use of public funds in water-related actions. However, viewers were less swayed on topics such as the “ickiness” of recycled water and on policies that allow black water recycling. At the final screening of the series, we also investigated preference for in-depth content versus a synoptic episode via structured focus groups. With a high degree of consensus, focus group participants felt that topics were better presented in episodes with more in-depth content. These results support the use of long-form, content-rich educational videos to teach water science and increase motivation. In combination with TV viewing metrics, our study thus supports the use of TV as an effective medium for reaching a broad demographic. However, our findings also imply that changing viewers’ perceptions on controversial water-use topics requires additional consideration to support the construction of new beliefs, water literacy, and citizen engagement.
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