Uplands Drinking Water: Formative research with stakeholders to support reliable, safe, and affordable water

Status Start Date End Date Locations
Active Apr 25, 2022 Nov 1, 2022 Crawford, Lawrence, Martin, Orange, Washington
Director: Ginger Davis
Other Researchers: Tracy Branam Julia DeBruscker (IU CRE);Gibson, Jacqueline MacDonald (IU-Environmental & Occupational Health); Kwan, Lauren; Alde, Alyson Diane (IU); Michelle Del Rio (IU);
Funding: Indiana University - Center for Rural Engagement
Issue: To generate and prioritize a roadmap of actions to ensure better access to reliable, safe, and affordable drinking water for the Indiana Uplands.
Objective: We will systematically gather the perspectives of professional stakeholders who are involved in managing the region’s drinking water, to pinpoint actions towards ensuring access to reliable, safe, and affordable drinking water for the Indiana Uplands. The project will focus particular attention on these aspects of the region’s drinking water: 1)Characterizing the current landscape of drinking water sources in the Uplands. This will include estimating the population having access to a regulated community water supply, and the population relying on unregulated sources (private wells, cisterns, ponds, other). 2)Enumerating the key concerns of professional stakeholders about the reliability, safety, palatability, and affordability of drinking water, and the main challenges they describe for regulated, community water systems and unregulated water systems. 3)Eliciting these stakeholders’ observations of local people’s drinking water consumption (or lack thereof) in their service regions. 4)Identifying and building consensus around needed updates to southern Indiana’s water infrastructure, including outlining potential options for greening this infrastructure (e.g., by decreasing energy used to produce and process water).
Approach: 1)Spring 2022: Convene drinking water stakeholders for place-based focus group discussions. We will plan for five in-person discussions and pivot to virtual if indicated. Discussions will tentatively be organized around five counties: Crawford, Lawrence, Martin, Orange, and Washington. These five counties are all entirely or mostly in the Crawford Uplands and the Mitchell Plateau physiographic regions. We estimate 20 participants per discussion. We plan to serve a working boxed lunch at each and plan to offer each participant a $50 gift card as a gesture of gratitude for sharing their knowledge and time. (Please see the Appendix for a working stakeholder list). 2)Summer 2022: After rapid analysis of the focus group proceedings, develop and circulate a brief online quantitative questionnaire for stakeholders to reflect the focus group discussions’ main patterns. Send this questionnaire to all invited stakeholders to quantify their views. As an incentive to fill out the survey, respondents will be entered into a raffle to win one of three $100 gift cards. Summer and Fall 2022: Analyze the questionnaire data and write a rapid, brief report with a summary fact sheet to represent the project’s quantitative and qualitative findings. 3)Fall 2022: Send this report out to all stakeholders, and convene them for a final, cross-county co-design workshop of findings. The aim of the follow-on discussion will be to transform the findings into sets of place-based action steps for stakeholders to pursue. We will again plan for an in-person workshop and pivot to virtual if indicated. Tentative location for this day-long workshop will be the West Baden Springs Hotel, anticipating 40 participants (8 per county). Participants will again receive a $50 gift card to thank them for sharing their time and knowledge with the project.
Products: -Written rapid report of findings, circulated to stakeholders -Written report from co-design workshops, circulated to stakeholders. This will prioritize and justify concrete actions for each of the project’s focus geographic areas -An illustrated, glossy fact sheet, online and printed, and distributed -Press release(s) for the above products -Maps to support the above products (SPECIFIC DELIVERABLE G. DAVIS) -A web page sharing project findings -One white paper -Two conference presentations to the Geological Society of America and the National Speleological Society (or other) (SPECIFIC DELIVERABLE G. DAVIS) -One academic journal article, with press release -Quarterly and final reports to CRE
Benefits: Besides the ability to bring attention to our organization in the larger water resources world and developing relationships, we will also benefit by determining perspectives of some of the biggest players in drinking water of this particular region. We will be part of some of the CRE projects that will lead to future relationships and funding of proposals and initiatives.