Analyzing Public Engagement Strategies for Drinking Water Policy of Water Conservation: A Phenomenological Approach

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Purpose. The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to investigate the perception of experts of water policy in South Florida. Water conservation has been, and continue to be, an issue for South Florida. Low water levels of the Biscayne Aquifer, because of excessive water pumping, increase the chances of saltwater intrusion; and combined with the increase of sea-level rise and population growth, water managers and officials look to make impactful changes. Governments across the region have implemented plans to create change by amending ordinances and creating water restrictions to reach residents in a way that will save the Biscayne Aquifer. And although the aquifer is recharged through the miles of canals, weather in South Florida is unpredictable: dry times during the rainy season and some wet times during the dry season. Theoretical Framework. This study was based on the theory of planned behavior theoretical framework. This theory proposes that attitude, subjective norm, and perceived behavioral control coincide, which together shape an individual’s behavioral intentions. Methodology. The methodology for this study focused on semistructured interviews that were conducted using elite interviewing. The researcher used surveys deployed to the experts of water policy to determine the top issues the region faces regarding water conservation. All data were transcribed and put through data analysis to determine consistency. Findings. Examination of qualitative data returned surprising results. Even though some of the experts felt that parts of their region were doing well, all agreed that there is no consistency to achieve the results for wide-scale improvement. Low-income residents saved water to save money, but higher income homes were habitual in bad practices. Furthermore, the participants felt that all residents were not being educated because of different factors, which scales down environmental benefit. Conclusions and Recommendations. This study adds to the body of knowledge by using qualitative data to establish the perception of water experts. It also recognizes the psychological impacts finances have on one’s ability to form better water conservatory practices needed for a long-term positive change and recognizes the importance of continually educating and reminding the public about water policy.
A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Doctor of Public Administration
Public Administration, Public Policy