Engaging Homeowner Associations to Reduce Nutrient Runoff in Stormwater Ponds

ENGAGING HOMEOWNER ASSOCIATIONS TO REDUCE NUTRIENT RUNOFF IN STORMWATER PONDS

  1. Atkinson, County Extension, UF; P. Monaghan, E. Ott, Agricultural Education and Communication, UF, G. Hansen, Environmental Horticulture, UF

Situation: Community stormwater ponds are important for water quality because of their ecological function, they also serve an aesthetic purpose and increase property value. Homeowners in communities desire a clean look to their stormwater ponds which demands pond managers to utilize short-term solutions like copper sulfate which could create long-term problems for water quality. Objectives: This project, through a community based social market approach, emphasizes that by helping to keep the ponds in good condition with preventive measures like Florida-Friendly Landscaping practices.  Methods: An educational outreach program with four points was developed based on the information we have obtained from the focus groups, advisory board and pre-survey results.  The programs design let homeowners know what the ponds do and how they can be maintained, made sure homeowners knew about and followed the fertilizer ordinance, and helped homeowners understand buffer zones and shoreline planting. Results: According to the pre and post surveys knowledge increased (n=618):

  • Pre 65% to post 23% (42% change) residents that did not know about the Manatee County ban on summer applications of nitrogen fertilizer.
  • Pre 48% to post 19% (29% change) of residents did not know that stormwater from their lawns and streets drained into stormwater ponds or that the ponds were connected to each other.

Conclusion:  The community based social marketing approach takes time to build a relationship to be able to gather information but also to compile and analyze the information gathered.  The benefit, however, is offering a program that specifically addresses the behaviors utilizing identified motivators of the community to promote adoption of recommended changes.

(Click photo to enlarge.)