The continued expansion in residential growth in McLean County impacts water quality and quantity in many ways, including raising concerns about the availability of water for the future. Yet, much of the current research on non-point source pollution continues to focus on agricultural producers as the primary source, with very little emphasis on the impacts from the growing residential populations. To address these concerns, Mclean County Soil and Water Conservation District, in collaboration with Illinois State University, conducted a watershed social assessment, with an emphasis on the Lake Bloomington and Evergreen Lake Watersheds, during the summer of 2015. A random sample of 939 households in Bloomington, north Normal, Towanda, Hudson, and Lake Bloomington were selected to participate in the survey and a total of 550 households completed the survey, for an overall response rate of 58%.
Overall, respondents generally agree that they have a personal responsibility to protect water quality. Findings from this study will be used to help inform and design future outreach and education activities to increase the adoption of BMPs among the growing residential population. Findings will also be used to help update the current watershed management plans for Lake Bloomington Watershed and Evergreen Lake Watershed to better address the growing residential population. Funding for this project provided, in part, by the Governor of Illinois and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency through Section 319 of the Clean Water Act.
The Mclean County Soil and Water Conservation District, in collaboration with Illinois State University, has received funding from the Illinois EPA to conduct a watershed social assessment, with an emphasis on the Lake Bloomington and Lake Evergreen Watersheds. Water supply and water quality are critically important issues for both human health and the health of the natural environment we depend on to meet our basic needs. Despite the importance of water to our society, pollution and poor planning for how we use our water resources are growing problems. To address these issues the US EPA and the Illinois EPA provide funding for plans to protect these resources at the watershed scale. Efforts to plan for water use and protect water quality in watershed plans must incorporate social science to be successful, as it is people’s understandings and behaviors that must change to protect our water resources.
The first step in the current research process was a qualitative assessment of current perceptions, concerns, and desires for water resources in and around the watersheds by interviewing key stakeholders. This assessment was conducted by Graduate Students at the Stevenson Center for Community and Economic Development between August and December, 2014. The attached report documents the initial findings from this process. These data will be used to help develop a residential household survey that will be administered to a random selection of households in Bloomington, Normal, Hudson, and Towanda during May, 2015.
Overall, the project has five primary goals:
Evaluate urban resident’s general level of knowledge and concerns of water quality and the effects of their activities on water quality and the practices they currently use that effect water quality (BMPs)
Evaluate onsite waste system knowledge and practice
Evaluate knowledge of and opinions of water conservation activities on water quality and quantity
Provide critical data to direct future outreach and education efforts
Provide vital social data to inform an update of the current watershed management plans to more directly address social aspects of watershed management for the future.