About this book
The citizen effect refers to the many ways people engage science, technology and each other to identify and solve local watershed and water resource problems. The waters of the United States are sources of pride and prosperity, and they are intimately connected to the land. Citizens have both rights to use and responsibility for conserving, protecting and sustaining these public water resources. However, streams, rivers and lakes across the country are becoming degraded and in danger of losing their capacity to meet the needs of the human, plant and animal populations which depend on them. While many point sources of pollutants can be and have been addressed by regulation, nonpoint source pollution resulting from independent land use decisions across a broad landscape, especially in agriculture, remains a very difficult issue. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in their National Water Quality Inventory Report to Congress singles out nonpoint source pollution as one of the biggest environmental challenges of the 21st century. There is increasing evidence that persistent nonpoint source water problems can be effectively addressed when public deliberation is linked to scientific knowledge and technical expertise. The subject of this book is human social interactions. We present qualitative and quantitative studies of citizens’ individual and collective efforts to work through the complex issues associated with watershed management. These results are intended to provide insight and practical knowledge that can be used by those who are working to bring change and long-lasting protection and improvement to U.S. waters.