Graduation Year

2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.S.

Degree Granting Department

Geography, Environment and Planning

Major Professor

Fenda Akiwumi

Keywords

Groundwater, Political Ecology, Water Policy, Water Resources, Well Fields

Abstract

Wetlands are vital ecosystems that provide ecological, economic and social benefits to societies. In the Tampa Bay region in West Central Florida, a growing population has put immense pressure on wetlands. The situation has not gone unnoticed in the public domain with concerns raised about the need to formulate policies that would protect them. However, it has been difficult to ascertain the level of citizen involvement in the decision making process.

This study aimed at investigating whether the perceptions and concerns of citizens drove them to influence local water policy. Questionnaires were used to collect data from residents living in close proximity to well fields situated in wetlands in Northwestern Hillsborough County.

Results of the research showed that residents demonstrated a high degree of knowledge about water resources in the Tampa Bay region. Residents expressed concerns about groundwater pumping and development, and attributed them to changes in their environment. However, there was little engagement from residents with decision makers to address these concerns. This study therefore recommends that improved participatory mechanisms be created by local water agencies to incorporate valuable inputs from the public.

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