Lake Champlain Basin Public Awareness and Action Survey Results and Recommendations – Technical Report #103

Title: Lake Champlain Basin Public Awareness and Action Survey Results and Recommendations – Technical Report #103
Author: Kris Stepenuck, Lori Fisher, Michael Moser, Jane Kolodinsky
Publication Year: 2022
Number of Pages in Article: 149
Keywords: LCBP Technical Report
Journal/Publication: Lake Champlain Basin Program
Publication Type: Technical and Demonstration

Fisher, L., J. Kolodinsky, M. Moser, and K. Stepenuck, Lake Champlain Basin Public Awareness and Action Survey Results and Recommendations (Technical Report No. 103). Grand Isle, VT: Lake Champlain Basin Program

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This report provides results of an assessment of public watershed and lake knowledge and stewardship activities of basin residents. It is one of the first broad based studies of its kind.  The survey instrument was developed with input from a diverse advisory committee composed of experts in water quality education & outreach, survey research and analysis, and community representatives. Residents in New York and Vermont were randomly selected and contacted about the survey via email. As Canadian regulations prohibited this type of contact, a request to participate in the online survey was mailed to a random selection of addresses in Lake Champlain basin communities in Quebec. A total of 1,675 substantially completed responses were collected ensuring a confidence level of 95% and a confidence interval (Margin of Error) of between +/- 3.7% and 5% for each geographic area and +/-2.4% overall. Approximately 42% of responses came from Vermont residents, 34% from Quebec residents and 23% from New York residents.

The majority of Lake Champlain basin residents recognized the importance of clean water for a healthy environment and sustainability, but they were nearly evenly divided on how clean the lake is. More people believe that local waterbodies were cleaner than believed Lake Champlain is clean. Basin residents most commonly believed that agriculture and runoff were the most serious challenges facing water quality, specifically identifying phosphorus, fertilizers, manure, and cyanobacteria as the most impactful pollutants. More basin residents who had heard about a watershed and could explain it to someone else strongly agreed that they knew things they could do to reduce water pollution where they live, how to find information about protecting water quality, and about local efforts to protect water quality.

These results suggest the benefits of watershed education to empower basin residents to understand impacts of land use practices on water quality, their role in minimizing such impacts and affording them opportunities to learn how to learn such information. Recommendations include identifying target practices that have most potential to protect or improve water quality and supporting community-based social marketing campaigns for specific audiences, developing TV and/or radio programs to educate basin residents about water quality, and using a variety of media types to reach different age groups, including podcasts, hands-on workshops and social media to reach younger audiences, and websites, informational fact sheets, and mailings to reach all adult audiences.

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