Education and Changes in Residential Nonpoint Source Pollution
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- Dietz, M.E., Clausen, J.C. & Filchak, K.K. Environmental Management (2004) 34: 684. doi:10.1007/s00267-003-0238-4
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Urban areas contribute pollutants such as excess nitrogen and bacteria to receiving water bodies. The objective of this project was to determine if stormwater quality could be improved by educating homeowners and implementing best management practices (BMPs) in a suburban neighborhood. The paired watershed design was used, where a control and treatment watershed are monitored during a calibration and treatment period. Treatment consisted of the education of homeowners and structural changes designed to minimize nonpoint pollution. Some changes in measured behavior were reported. According to the treatment period survey, 11% of respondents in the treatment watershed began fertilizing their lawn based on the results of a soil test, whereas none had done so previously. In addition, 82% of respondents in the treatment watershed stated that they left clippings on the lawn compared to 62% from the initial survey. Twelve of 34 lots (35%) adopted some BMPs following education efforts, indicating a significant (P = 0.001) increase in BMP use overall. However, a χ2 analysis of survey data indicated no significant changes in measured behavior with regard to specific questions. Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) results indicated that a 75% reduction in nitrite + nitrate - N (change in intercept, P = 0.001) and a 127% reduction in fecal coliform bacteria (change in slope, P = 0.05) concentrations occurred. However, the treatment period regression was nonsignificant for bacteria. Total nitrogen, total phosphorus, and ammonia-N concentrations did not change significantly. Intensive education efforts produced BMP implementation and measurable water quality improvements.