Empowering citizens to comprehend complex environmental issues affecting their daily lives is essential to sustaining a healthy and informed public. The work of many environmental nongovernmental organizations (ENGOs) and institutions of higher education (IHEs) center around helping their stakeholders become informed of, and in turn, better understand complex environmental problems. However, providing individual stakeholders with knowledge about environmental issues that is easily accessible and understandable represents a recurring challenge in today's society. As a result, a gap continues to exist between that which is known about environmental problems and the public's awareness and understanding of those issues. Arsenic contamination of drinking water from privately owned groundwater wells in rural areas of the southwest the United States is one such environmental issue, which is the focus of this research project.
Results from this study demonstrate that an Internet-based GIS application represents a promising tool for informing stakeholders of selected water quality issues and helping stakeholders comprehend the scope of arsenic found in drinking water in rural areas. Specifically, findings from this research suggest that the interactive environment of an Internet GIS is an easy to use technology that facilitates the visualization of arsenic water quality impairment in an accessible format for stakeholders. Feedback from ENGO and IHE professionals (who were the target population in this study) indicated that an Internet GIS application, such as the one used in this project, represents one method to inform stakeholders of drinking water quality issues. This, in turn, contributes to reducing the gap between known scientific information about environmental issues and stakeholder knowledge of the facts and consequences associated with those concerns.
Results from this study inform an important initial step in reducing the knowledge gap (i.e., determining ENGO and IHE professionals' perspectives about the value of use of an Internet GIS for engaging with public stakeholders), leading to the subsequent task of ensuring that public stakeholders are aware of the opportunities to use Internet GIS to become more informed about water quality issues. To advance the findings from this project, additional research is needed to further clarify best practices that ENGO and IHE professionals may employ to disseminate an easily accessible Internet GIS for water quality from rural, unregulated sources. Additional need exists to gather and compare the perceptions of stakeholders with the perspectives of ENGO and IHE professionals to best clarify the use of Internet GIS as a tool to disseminate unregulated drinking water quality information to rural water users.
|Advisor:||Sutton, Paul C.|
|Commitee:||Hamann, Hillary B., Li, Jing, Powell, Rebecca L.|
|School:||University of Denver|
|School Location:||United States -- Colorado|
|Source:||DAI-A 76/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Geography, Water Resource Management, Environmental science, Environmental engineering|
|Keywords:||Navajo nation, Rural groundwater contamination, Unregulated drinking water sources, Water quality, Water resources, Web-based geographic information systems|
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