Water Education Assessment Standards: The Pipeline to Conserving Water in Urban Cities
Water conservation is a vital water supply strategy that will be or is already implemented globally. As water supply usage grows, water conservation will become even more important. Greater adoption of water conservation behaviors is crucial if our current water supply is to last us into the coming decades. Currently, water conservation education programs lack effectiveness standards making it difficult to evaluate behavioral response to implemented programs. Consistent information is needed to improve program assessments and refine conservation strategies. National, state, and local agencies investing millions of dollars in conservation programs should strive to enhance program efficiencies when possible to improve their return on investment. The purpose of this paper is to propose a model to better assess water conservation programs as it reflects actual conservation behavior, and to identify potential assessment standards. Conservation is gaining momentum in large and drought stricken cities. Water conservation education in these cities has become an integral component in motivating the public to adopt conservation behaviors. This paper cross-examines three Texas urban city case studies and the ways in which each water conservation education program examines its own effectiveness. This research examines post-program written evaluations, and summary statistics on the conservation of water within each program’s city. Furthermore, a review of a new Texas water information feedback system that aims to quantify household water conservation is examined to see if feedback may reflect conservation behaviors. Results indicate that participants’ intentions to conserve water in post-program evaluations were weak determinants of actual conservation behavior. While urban city statistics on household water conservation showed to be an indicator of water conservation behavior, it appears that the installations of low-flow utilities were not considered in city-wide statistics. In terms of adopted water information feedback systems, data shows that households were more apt to adopt water conservation behaviors. Installing water information feedback systems to households located in areas where water education is occurring may be a viable standard to enabling programs to determine their effectiveness in creating conservation behaviors. Policy makers and government agencies should choose to invest in programs that result in actual conservation behaviors within communities. In areas in which programs do not contribute to conservation, agencies should push to promote improvements within programs.
The purpose of this study is to show the link between institutional capacity and performance in three water utilities in the north of Mexico (Hermosillo, Mexicali and Saltillo). These utilities have similar weather, population and economic development level, but they also have different outcome performance measured in terms of service continuity, water loss and consumer satisfaction. These utilities also have different institutional frameworks: Hermosillo is a municipal owned utility, Mexicali is a state owned utility and Saltillo is a public private partnership (PPP). The influence of these configurations on the institutional capacity is addressed by analyzing three levels of institutional capacity: the macro level, which refers to the political and institutional context of utilities and their relation to other government agencies; the meso level which refers to the legal, technological and financial resources (which allow utilities to carry out long term planning of activities, set water prices at sustainable levels, diversify financial sources, measure consumption, collect revenue, etc); and the micro level which refers to the human resources management (hiring policies, incentives, training, etc.) Indicators were defined in order to measure the level of development of each of these levels.
Results show that utilities with better performance (Mexicali and Saltillo) have greater indices of institutional capacity. Mexicali and Saltillo have longer planning horizons than Hermosillo as well as greater measurement of water consumption. They also have more hours of training and better incentives. Saltillo has also less staff per thousand connections, and being a PPP, is not affected by political discretion in staff hiring. Mexicali has diversified its sources for financing infrastructure, unlike Hermosillo which depends greatly on the support from the municipal government. Saltillo has implemented a system of dividend payment that provides funds for investment.In general, results suggest that the institutional configuration of utilities can affect their institutional capacity and thus performance, with training, measurement and financial diversification as key elements of institutional capacity. So far, policies in Mexico have been oriented towards providing more resources for new water sources and infrastructure, but these resources are not used efficiently because of the low capacity of utilities. Thus, policies should address the issue of institutional capacity in urban water utilities in Mexico. By subdividing the study of institutional capacity in three levels, the approach used in this study allows policy makers to identify opportunity areas in the institutional capacity of utilities so that policies can be oriented to the improvement of the most deficient levels.
Given the gap between scientists and the public: “Scientists must find new ways to engage the public” - President Obama. A “sense of place” in nature is fundamental to learning, understanding and an informed citizenry. Field Stations provide some of those places and are catalysts. To build on the important role that field stations play in research, education, and stewardship, the 2014 National Academy of Science (NAS) report concluded that the place-based knowledge that field stations provide makes better informed resource managers, decision-makers, and citizens. Consider Texas, where the 90% urban/95% private property disconnect provides “field stations” the opportunity to increase science-based environmental literacy-rural/urban connections. Texas Tech University Llano River Field Station in the Texas Hill Country enjoys a strategic geographic position to conduct water/watershed, invasive species impacts, agricultural, and ecological studies and education in a critical region encompassing 25 counties, an area larger than 10 U.S. states. An important feature is the Edwards Plateau, characterized by a large number of springs and forming the headwaters of 7 major river systems. LRFS provides a comprehensive spectrum of collaborations focused on finding solutions to regional problems related to watershed and range science, freshwater systems and natural resource education, with national and international implications. We engage/partner with state & federal agencies (14), school districts (65), professional scientific and educational organizations (8), funding agencies, NGOs, municipalities, landowners, community colleges and other universities who share expertise, planning and resources.
LRFS initiatives involve: 1) grants for research and engagement, 2) professional scientific/educational conferences, 3) innovative partnerships (Water Symposium with Texas Public Radio). New and ongoing projects are: 1) Watershed Planning and Education through stakeholder coordination, a protection plan with EPA’s Healthy Watersheds Group framework, 2) partnerships with the National Park Service RTCA Program and Amistad National Recreation Area, 3) a role with the newly designated USGS South Central Climate Science Center, 4) range, riparian and watershed demonstration projects, 5) human diversity initiatives with the Ecological Society of America and community colleges, 6) evaluating ecosystem services and community economic impact of research and 7) natural resource/environmental literacy through LRFS’s Outdoor School, internationally recognized as a Texas Exemplar Program using standards based, transdisciplinary multiple best learning practices and GLOBE protocols instruction linking innovative curriculum with nature//outdoors.
Field Stations, such as LRFS provides an exemplar for boundary spanning which is critical in fostering horizontal integration across the many administrative units of a university, local and regional communities, and among state and federal agencies. Field Stations are a nexus for water, natural resource and environmental education among diverse communities, resulting from a systems approach to garner participation and partnerships. Building authentic relationships has been critical to LRFS connections and legitimacy. Reaching out to the community leaders and “believers” in our collective potential (mayors, legislators, county judges, ranchers, etc.) laid the foundation for engagement and trust. Field Stations, together with agency partnerships and stakeholder/landowner involvement in research and education are resistance and resilience components of watersheds that promote stability by increasing capacity to absorb disturbances.
Future water stewardship and fact-based water policy: an aquatic science education pathway model
Texas Aquatic Science originated from a project called Headwaters to Ocean (H2O) to connect students to water science for life through technology enhanced, experiential, place-based education. The funder, a private foundation in Texas, was seeking better ways to educate students about water, because of concern that current education was failing to promote good decisions about water by adult citizens and political leaders in Texas.
Initial work focused on developing means to integrate use of new mobile and interactive technologies into curricula about water. Review by middle and high school teachers of initial work products revealed a need for a context for use in order to allow for integration of the materials into classroom practice.
After our uncertain start, we developed a comprehensive curriculum to engage learners from middle school through university. The thesis was to design an education pathway to create water-savvy citizens of tomorrow who will take personal action to ensure effective stewardship of water and evidence-based policies on water. This paper will briefly describe the curriculum and present the results of research on its effectiveness in Texas middle and high school classrooms.
Work expanded through support from over 20 partners and multiple funders to develop a comprehensive context for water (aquatic) science education. This resulted in a comprehensive curriculum adhering to state teaching standards and providing multiple avenues for aquatic science instruction, both in and outside the classroom. Included is a comprehensive textbook in print and on-line versions, a teacher guide with instructional and assessment materials that support integration of technology enhancements, chapter summary videos, over 225 lesson videos, and certified field sites connecting aquatic science in the classroom with informal educators and outdoor place-based experiential learning. This provides a comprehensive context for instruction of middle and high school students, and also serves as a basis for aquatic science instruction at the college level for non-science majors, in the home-school environment, and through on-line opportunities available to anyone.
In order to assess effectiveness and usability, research-oriented workshops were held for 167 middle and high school teachers representing 4,500 students from schools in all major areas of Texas. Attendees were instructed on use of the curriculum and its implementation into their classroom and teachers were invited to participate in a pilot use research project for the 2015-16 school year. Initial analysis of results indicates students did significantly better on tests covering knowledge of aquatic science after having been exposed to the curriculum (p<0.05). Teachers said they believe the curriculum enhances student learning and teacher ability to provide meaningful instruction. Complete results will be presented.
We believe this model can be used for developing water education curricula for other places and for specific areas of instruction, such as for watershed science or coastal areas management. Most importantly, the original objective of the initiating funder was to develop an education pathway to empower future citizens to personally take action to conserve water and engage in policy debate which now appears underway in Texas.
This research explores the nature of ‘Quantification’ in domestic water supply system, roles of metering in controlling Unaccounted for Water (UFW) and their linkages to the water accounting. ‘Quantification’ means a complete process of measurement, which includes working out measurements of water at various stages and recording it in the table or account to the size of Urban Local Body (ULB).
This research inclines towards the active management approach and aims to provide insights about the types of information and analysis needed for efficient management.
Domestic water supply in India needs attention on both, adequacy and quality. Adequacy can be addressed by improving system efficiency in a cost effective manner. The evidence, however, points to inefficiencies in water management for leak detection and UFW up to 42%. This is the state of affairs in spite of sophisticated metering systems and a considerably good database in Bangalore city. Despite several actions taken by Bangalore Water Supply And Sewerage Board (BWSSB), this continues without a change as there is a lack of proper water accounts and little political concern on such issues. Meanwhile, in Ahmedabad, a city without metering for water and poor database leads to a failure in controlling high UFW- 40%. This results in inefficient financial recovery and a low operating ratio. Policies on water management must be based on the idea that accountability breeds responsibility.
Given the need for efficiency earlier, the real issue is how to address responsibility in distribution to control major water losses. A practical and viable alternative is to properly quantify the water supplied with or without metering. This can be done by two methods- Tabulation and Accounting. The tabulation method is simple but has limitations of day wise accounting and cannot generate flow estimates; these can be omitted in the accounting method.
The Sample water account shows that the Stock and Flow theory is the base for detailed water accounting and can be done in line with financial accounting. United Nations has developed Standard Economic-Environmental Accounting (SEEA) structure for physical and monetary applications of the various natural resources including water.
This study endorses the fact that metering helps in setting up a reasonable tariff, billing and collection mechanism but proper pipe network design-District Metering Area (DMA) and quantified data are required to address accountability and to control UFW and role of metering is important but limited in terms of system reform. Alternative methods of measurement and statistical techniques for approximations appeared useful on an appropriate reliability scale.
The large cities depends on regional water sources which are part of the larger environment and state economy, transformation process of from a non-metered to metered water supply system is a long-term process. A sample water account was developed following United Nations Standard Economic-Environmental Accounting (SEEA) (United Nations, 2014). Integrated Water Accounting Platform-IWAP was conceptualized as a tool. Modelling of water use plan, developing IWAP following UN SEEA methodology is meaningful. The study points to a multidisciplinary approach being useful for successful implementation.