Water Education Assessment Standards: The Pipeline to Conserving Water in Urban Cities
Water conservation is a vital water supply strategy that will be or is already implemented globally. As water supply usage grows, water conservation will become even more important. Greater adoption of water conservation behaviors is crucial if our current water supply is to last us into the coming decades. Currently, water conservation education programs lack effectiveness standards making it difficult to evaluate behavioral response to implemented programs. Consistent information is needed to improve program assessments and refine conservation strategies. National, state, and local agencies investing millions of dollars in conservation programs should strive to enhance program efficiencies when possible to improve their return on investment. The purpose of this paper is to propose a model to better assess water conservation programs as it reflects actual conservation behavior, and to identify potential assessment standards. Conservation is gaining momentum in large and drought stricken cities. Water conservation education in these cities has become an integral component in motivating the public to adopt conservation behaviors. This paper cross-examines three Texas urban city case studies and the ways in which each water conservation education program examines its own effectiveness. This research examines post-program written evaluations, and summary statistics on the conservation of water within each program’s city. Furthermore, a review of a new Texas water information feedback system that aims to quantify household water conservation is examined to see if feedback may reflect conservation behaviors. Results indicate that participants’ intentions to conserve water in post-program evaluations were weak determinants of actual conservation behavior. While urban city statistics on household water conservation showed to be an indicator of water conservation behavior, it appears that the installations of low-flow utilities were not considered in city-wide statistics. In terms of adopted water information feedback systems, data shows that households were more apt to adopt water conservation behaviors. Installing water information feedback systems to households located in areas where water education is occurring may be a viable standard to enabling programs to determine their effectiveness in creating conservation behaviors. Policy makers and government agencies should choose to invest in programs that result in actual conservation behaviors within communities. In areas in which programs do not contribute to conservation, agencies should push to promote improvements within programs.