The Effects of Mountain Pine Beetle on Drinking Water Quality: Assessing Communication Strategies and Knowledge Levels in the Rocky Mountain Region
Widespread tree mortality in forested watersheds affected by the mountain pine beetle (MPB) epidemic across western North America raised public concerns about the effects of this climate-induced disturbance on drinking water resources. Effective communication is essential for constructively responding to such disturbances. This chapter presents an assessment of drinking water stakeholder knowledge levels, information needs, concerns, and suggested communication strategies via an expert elicitation survey in 2013. This research provides improved understanding of the challenges, concerns, and experience of drinking water providers. Knowledge levels were relatively low with 50% of respondents reporting little to no knowledge of the effects of MPB on drinking water quality. Recommendations include dissemination of non-academic research summaries, exchange of information through existing media and community resources, demonstration projects, and information clearinghouses.
The National Science Foundation Water Sustainability and Climate Program Project Grants 1204460 and 1204787 supported this work. The authors wish to thank A. Mitchell for assistance with developing the survey instrument, B. Brouillard for gathering contact information, and S. Brooker for assisting with a literature review.
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