Water bubbles up from the Edwards Aquifer Springs at Spring Lake, the headwaters of the San Marcos River. Daily Record file photo
Study gauged what Texans know about
The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University, in partnership with Joni Charles, associate professor in the McCoy College of Business Administration, has released findings from a year-long study that explores public knowledge of groundwater issues, including availability and quality.
This study was conducted to explore Texas residents’ knowledge, perception and understanding of groundwater. The survey included 312 participants who completed a questionnaire through mail-in responses or internet surveys. Findings indicate that most respondents have a basic understanding of what groundwater is and where it comes from. Further questions are aimed at understanding participants’ perceptions of general availability and quality of groundwater currently and in the future.
“A few things surprised me,” said Charles. “One is that the respondents to the survey had a pretty good baseline knowledge of groundwater. There was a variety in responses in perceptions on groundwater, meaning its general availability and where they think it will be in the future.”
One set of questions found that 95 percent of online respondents and 79 percent of mail-in respondents do not believe groundwater is plentiful and will always be available for human use.
A majority of respondents did understand what groundwater is, but only seven respondents could answer which aquifer was the source of their groundwater. This shows that for groundwater conservation efforts to be effective, groundwater conservation districts should increase educational efforts to connect resident knowledge to a watershed perspective.
“Knowledge affects behavior,” said Charles. “Whether you get information from a blog or being involved at a community level, any way you can get knowledge about the environment will affect your behavior. It’s important for people just to be aware that all of the ways they interact with water above the ground is tied to the health of the water underground.”
View the full report.