Graduation Year

2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.S.

Degree Granting Department

Geography, Environment and Planning

Major Professor

Kamal Alsharif

Co-Major Professor

Fenda A. Akiwumi

Keywords

community perception, environmental behavior, environmental management, landscaping practices, nonpoint source pollution, water quality

Abstract

Stormwater nonpoint source pollution (NPSP) is a result of diffuse sources of pollutants transported by rainfall and surface runoff into stormwater ponds and drainage systems before percolating into the ground. In particular, the nutrients found in fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides applied in excess by homeowners and landscapers can cause a range of issues in stormwater ponds from fish kills to eutrophication. As a result, Manatee County, Florida has issued a fertilizer ordinance with best management practices (BMPs) and a fertilizer black out period to reduce NPSP. This study is aimed at capturing the perceptions of residents which affect stormwater NPSP through their behaviors, awareness, and knowledge. Interviews, surveys,and observational data were used to establish social indicator scores, gather qualitative data, and evaluate outreach efforts surrounding the Manatee County fertilizer ordinance and the function stormwater ponds in Lakewood Ranch.

Results showed that residents substantially lacked awareness of the fertilizer ban, ordinance and grass clipping violation fine. Outreach questions revealed that 69% of residents had not seen any materials related to the ban. While residents' feelings generally ranged from neutral to positive with regard to shoreline and aquatic plants, they remained resistant to the actual installation of the plants. The results also indicated that residents were well aware of the purposes shoreline plants serving as barriers and nutrient filters. In addition, Key Informant interviews revealed that while residents understood the environmental consequences of their actions, they maintained their behavior to adhere to deeply rooted social norms.

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