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Using Social Indicators to Identify Challenges and Opportunities facing the Implementation of TMDL Reducing Agricultural BMPs

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Abstract:

Wisconsin's Lower Fox River Watershed is located in the northeastern part of the state and includes a very high concentration of dairy farms along with the cities of Green Bay and Appleton. Consequently, the water quality of the Lower Fox River and its tributaries has been substantially impaired by high sediment and total phosphorus loads. Since agricultural practices are a substantial source of these nonpoint (NPS) source pollutants, reduction of TMDLs in this watershed, as with many watersheds, is highly contingent on the willingness and ability of agricultural producers to implement NPS reducing best management practices (BMPs). To assess potential challenges and opportunities for implementation, farmers in the watershed were surveyed in the fall of 2007. This survey collected demographic and farm data as well as measured several indicators aimed at understanding farmer awareness, attitudes, behaviors and constraints regarding pollutants in the watershed and specific BMPs designed to reduce them. In addition, all farms were georeferenced in the watershed using GIS.

Analysis of this data produced several outcomes. First it gauged overall attitudes and awareness of pollution in the Lower Fox River Watershed. Second, it identified barriers to and opportunities for the implementation of specific agricultural BMPs. Third, it provided unique comparisons between subgroups of farmers based on the farm sizes, types and current implementation of BMPs. Taken together, these outcomes provided substantial insight into the potential for reducing TMDLs in the watershed as well as specific targets for outreach.

This presentation will focus on the design of social indicators created for this survey, results obtained from survey administration and conclusions reached through analysis. While specific results of this study are unique to the Lower Fox River Watershed, this presentation will address how this methodology can be potentially used in other geographic regions as well as in urban settings. In addition, the potential for integrating social indicator data with TMDL models will be discussed briefly.

Keywords: Agricultural Pollution; Best Management Practices; Education; Outreach; Social Indicators; Survey Methodology

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.2175/193864709793958291

Publication date: 2009-01-01

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