T. McIntyre, UF/IFAS Extension, Seminole County, Sanford, FL.
Situation: Regarding water quantity, The Central Water Initiative predicts a deficiency of 250 million gallons per day in the projected water supply for Central Florida by 2035. From a water quality perspective, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has listed many fresh waterbodies in Central Florida as officially impaired for nutrients. The Florida-Friendly Landscaping (FFL) programming in Seminole County works with residents to solve these water issues. The pandemic of 2020 created a shift from in-person to virtual workshops. Methods: Programming was enhanced by collaborating with internal and external partners and delivered online using Zoom webinar. Surveys were migrated to Qualtrics and emailed to participants along with links to educational materials. Results: In 2020, 1487 respondents completed a survey after attending an FFL webinar, of which, 96% reported an increase in knowledge gained related to the 9 FFL principles and 95.9% reported an intent to change FFL related behaviors. Three to six months after each webinar, participants received a follow up survey to measure behavior change, of which 383 respondents (versus 238 in 2019) reported a 68% change in Florida-Friendly specific behaviors. Conclusion: Program efforts resulted in a combined estimated water savings of 39,580,812 gallons of water annually, based on Extension clients’ reported behavior change. This is enough water to supply nearly 450 households with water per year, is valued at $131,012.49 in water bill savings for participating households and $102,910.11 in water delivery costs for utilities statewide. Additionally, the reduction in nutrients that would have made its way to our waterways is estimated by a State Specialist to have saved the county between $49,790-$346,676 in remediation dollars. In-person workshops can be limited in capacity, however going virtual allowed us to serve more residents at their convenient location along with increase the impacts and outcomes of the program.