5th UF Water Institute Symposium Abstract

Submitter's Name Laura Warner
Session Name Achieving Behavior Change: Public perceptions and awareness of water conservation issues - 1
Author(s) Laura Warner,  UF/IFAS Department of Agricultural Education and Communication; Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology (Presenting Author)
  Alexa Lamm,  UF/IFAS Department of Agricultural Education and Communication; Center for Public Issues Education
  Joy Rumble, UF/IFAS Department of Agricultural Education and Communication; Center for Public Issues Education
  Defining Residents who use Landscape Irrigation: Implications for Impactful Water Conservation Programming for an Important Audience
  Most residential landscapes receive excess irrigation water (St. Hilaire et al., 2008), which can often be reduced by more than half without compromising aesthetic quality (Haley & Dukes, 2012). Water conservation campaigns that appeal to the needs and characteristics of audience subgroups versus a mass appeal are more salient to group members and are more likely to result in practice change (Andreasen, 2006). Water conservation practices and perceptions were collected from a survey of Floridians who use landscape irrigation (N = 1,063). As a list of irrigation users is not available, random sampling of this group was not possible, therefore non-probability sampling was used to make estimates about this population (Baker et al., 2013). Hierarchical cluster analysis using Ward's method was conducted on 38 variables (current water conservation practices, likelihood of engaging in conservation practices in the future, and hiring professional services practices) and identified a three cluster solution. K-means clustering was used to identify three subgroups, between which variables were significantly different. Members of the three subgroups identified were labeled as being part of the Water Considerate Majority (n = 479, 45%), Water Savvy Conservationists (n = 378, 36%), and Unconcerned Water Users (n = 201, 19%). Cluster analysis was found to be a meaningful way to divide the residential irrigator audience into subgroups. Results indicated that this target audience could be segmented by landscape water conservation practices. By understanding the three distinct subgroups, outreach professionals can develop water conservation programs with greater appeal and precision. This presentation will describe the baseline data collected on this important target audience, with an emphasis on how this group is different from the overall state population. Additionally, recommendations will be provided for developing programs for different subgroups and communicating based on their members’ unique characteristics and needs.