, Volume 80, Issue 1, pp 113–127 | Cite as

Down with the flow: public debates shaping the risk framing of artificial groundwater recharge

  • Jari LyytimäkiEmail author
  • Timo Assmuth


Securing high-quality potable water is a key challenge for all societies. The question is not only about water availability and quality determined by hydrological, chemical, and biological factors, or technologies and monetary assets, but also about various cultural, social, and political factors that together constitute so-called hydro-social cycles. We focus on risk communication and management, in connection with the debates on planning and construction of an artificial groundwater recharge system in the Virttaankangas esker, aiming to provide potable water for the region of Turku, southwest Finland. Based on print media coverage, online debate, and comments on the environmental impact assessment report, we identify key themes and framings of risk debates and discuss which elements of the hydro-social cycle are prone to be highlighted or omitted. Our results show how different framings of risks and benefits are represented with regard to geography, time span, causative agents, impact types, those exposed, alternative management options, and uncertainties involved. Representations created both by traditional print media and new social media polarise the debate. The adoption of the concept of the hydro-social cycle in planning and communication processes may help in understanding and alleviating polarisation.


Managed aquifer recharge Contaminants Mercury Newspaper Social media Water quality 



This research received financial support from the Academy of Finland project Aquatic Contaminants—Pathways, Health Risks and Management (CONPAT) of the Sustainable Governance of Aquatic Resources (AKVA) programme.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Finnish Environment InstituteHelsinkiFinland

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