Thank you to those of you who were able to attend or call in to the Clean Rivers Coalition Healthy Waters Campaign Forum on October 23rd. We’ve shared a summary of the day below, and you can find all of the resources we shared during the forum here.
CRC October Forum Summary:
The CRC forum kicked off with representatives from EPA, DEQ, ODA, USGS, OWEB, and OSU supporting the collaboration across 28 local government, 10 watershed councils, 6 SWCDs and 5 nonprofits representing about 60 attendees.
We reminded people of our vision to collaborate, share freely, connect people to rivers, and connect their behaviors to the rivers in order to not just make people aware of water pollution, but to employ social science behavior change methods that will remove barriers for people to undertake positive behaviors that do not contribute pollution to our water. The methods we will use are based off of concepts taught in Fostering Sustainable Behavior, by Doug Mackenzie-Mohr, Ph.D. Environmental Psychologist.
We described our feedback loops from the past two years of working with this large group of federal, state, local, and nonprofit-related water-related environmental groups.
This included a summary of the priority chemicals that we have investigated that we grouped into three categories: 1) Consumer Products 2) Metals 3) Pesticides
These priority pollutants come from Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic (PBT) lists from EPA, Oregon Health Authority, and DEQ. This list was then developed into a Pollutant Risk Database (PRDB) to help examine the relative risk of any given pollutant as compared to others in order for groups/agencies working on program development in a limited resource environment to make rational choices based in science. This PRDB examines risk to fish, insects, and humans, and provides an overall normalized risk score, includes aquatic and human life benchmarks where they exist, as well as water sampling data from Oregon. The PRDB is was a master’s degree completion project for Alix Danielsen, with support from Community Partner, City of Gresham, PSU Professors and DEQ staff review. It is available via Northwest Open Data Exchange.
Using Meyer Memorial Trust grant funding, CRC hired Brink Communications to assist with the development of a Strategic Communication Plan that is to benefit all water stakeholders. As part of the plan development research, Brink researched existing data and surveys about water pollution, public attitudes, and awareness, and utilized findings from the PRDB to recommend some key areas that future campaign work might center around. These included yard and garden chemicals, electronic waste disposal, and responsible recreation. Based on regional interviews (Upper, mid, lower W. Valley, and Central Oregon) with local agency and water-related nonprofit groups, as well as a panel of scientists from DEQ, ODA, OEC, OHA, Xerces, CRITFIC, and Metro, Brink recommended an initial campaign focus on the reduction of priority yard and garden chemicals and alternative behaviors and practices.
CRC presented a summary of the highest ranking pesticides in the database that were also found available at Portland area garden stores (Fred Meyer, Ace Hardware, Home Depot). Topping the list is a fungicide propiconazole used for brown spots on lawns and powdery mildew, combination weed and feed products that have MCPP, dicamba, 2,4-D, and triclopyr, and insecticides such as Malathion, Carbaryl, Acetamiprid, and Imidacloprid (and others).
The DHM survey was presented. This was a statewide survey of 1,000 Oregonians who took the survey online. Survey quotas were set to match the Oregon population for adults over 18, gender, race, income, and education. The margin of error is +/-3%. The people responding were broken into three main areas (Portland-Metro, W. Valle,y and Rest of the State). Each person was asked to describe their area as either urban, suburban, or rural. Of those reporting that they manage their own lawns n=709, 80% were white and 20% were people of color. 21% use commercial herbicides and 18% use commercial insecticides and are majority male, white, and income over $50K and up. This roughly equates to about 600,000 and 400,000 yard and garden chemical users as a target population, where about 240K live in the Metro region, 162K live in the W. Valley, and 200K live in the rest of the state.
Other cool survey findings:
74% participate in river-related activities.
75% feel connected to rivers and are more likely to feel connected if they participate in activities. People with more income are more likely to participate in river activities and people with lower incomes are less so (likely correlates to income ability to have boats/water accessories, etc.)
87% believe individuals have a role to play in water protection
68% stated they were likely to change their behavior in the future to protect water (but could be over-inflated due to optimistic but not accurate beliefs of themselves). People’s willingness to change correlated with their participation in river activities.
An impact analysis math explanation was given on how to calculate the penetration rate of the behavior you are targeting based on results from the DHM survey data as a handout. The analysis uses the equation Risk X Willingness X %Population Doing the Undesired Behavior = a Benefit score that allows program staff to determine which chemicals to focus upon in order to have a maximum environmental benefit. This is a model to help make rational choices in a resource limited environment.
Brink wrapped up with a summary of “What does it all mean?” and suggested that focuses on how people control weeds might be a good entry point, as two out of three weed control users also use insecticides. Some ideas from other good campaign work: Pesticide Free Pledge, Kid-Safe Yard Care, Reduce/Rethink your lawn, Ask Your Landscaper these Three Questions. Brink will be working on conducting focus groups in the coming month and will develop ideas for a future campaign to test with focus groups and US!
Attendees then participated in small group tabletop discussions in order to digest the day’s content. Individuals completed a short exercise with questions about how they might participate in rolling out a series of messages and then talked to each other about a vision for success. During discussions, groups noted the synergies and limitations of our ability to collaborate. For example, governments cannot talk about use of specific products, but watershed councils or other groups can. Because we have different messengers for different types of messages, the exercise was intended to encourage folks to delineate the scale, scope, and type of message they might use to engage to their network. Groups wrapped up by reporting out points of interest to the room.
It was a very productive day, and we appreciate the time, input, and support from all CRC stakeholders!