Urban residents and non-point source pollution : an examination of practices, influences, and values in the Tualatin watershed Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/ht24wn76p

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  • In July of 2001, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) activated the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDLs) provisions of the Clean Water Act. As the first river in Oregon to implement TMDL regulations, people and agencies in the Tualatin basin face many challenges. Non-point source pollution affects water quality in the Tualatin River and comes from various sources. This research focuses on urban home and yard maintenance practices. During 2002, I examined Best Management Practices (BMPs) that have been established for urban residents by water quality and conservation agencies. Employing a range of qualitative and quantitative methods, factors surrounding agency BMP adoption and agency goals for urban residential practices are investigated. Observation of actual home and yard maintenance styles are correlated with residents' explanation of maintenance styles and residents' expression of environmental and other values. In-depth interview and content analysis of websites and pamphlets show agency preferences which push for: low input lawns and yards, a realization of the environmental impacts of individual maintenance styles, and recognition of benefits of clean water to humans and the environment. Results from a survey of residents (n=98), direct observation (n= 183), and short interviews (n=22) suggest the presence of behaviors harmful to water quality and conservation efforts. Harmful behaviors appear to be supported by the importance of neighborhood appearance, a desire to protect property values, and a tendency to want to balance economic considerations and environmental consequences. Although agency goals include behavioral and value change, the lack of concern for environmental impact of maintenance styles in the survey population suggests the need for alternative educational efforts. A focus on non-environmental benefits of low input yard designs and maintenance that also promote neighborhood beauty will be key to the reduction of urban residential non-point source pollution in the Tualatin watershed.
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