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Water: Nonpoint Source Success Stories

Information and Education Programs: Colorado

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Colorado Water Protection Project:
League of Women Voters Guides Extensive Urban NPS Campaign

Cynthia Petersen
Project Manager
Colorado Water Protection Project
 "Crystal clear" and "sparkling blue" are common media references to Colorado's waters. Citizens throughout the state have been hearing another water message, though, through a special outreach crusade. The message shares how an average homeowner can actively protect and avoid polluting Colorado's waters.

The League of Women Voters' Colorado Education Fund is reaching the state with this message through the Colorado Water Protection Project, supported in part through 319 funding. The project seeks to raise citizens' awareness of the need for more preventative approaches for emerging water issues. Because most of Colorado's population is urban, three information areas were identified for emphasis: home fertilizer and pesticide use, pet waste, and do-it-yourself auto maintenance.

The media campaign kicked off with a 30-second television message that aired statewide for a 10-day period in spring 1999. About 90 percent of potential Colorado viewers were reached with the television products. The campaign was broadened with the concurrent release of information through newspaper articles, eye-catching local bus advertisements, and pollution prevention pamphlets that were distributed statewide.Project partners include a diverse representation of private and government entities. Nearly 40 representatives serve on the project's technical committee, and 16 organizations have contributed funds and services.

Surveys conducted before implementing the project found that less than 50 percent of the respondents knew that storm water runs into local rivers, streams, and lakes untreated by municipal treatment facilities. A majority did not realize household-generated polluted runoff was a significant contributor to water pollution. More than 25 percent did not think household-generated polluted runoff was a local community concern or had an impact on their quality of life. Twenty percent did not think a person could make a difference by preventing pollution in his or her household.

Lack of information and inconvenience were noted as barriers to changing behavior. Television and newspapers were found to be best means to convey needed information. Health concerns, drinking water protection, and environmental quality for future generations were the main motivation factors for changing behavior.

Post-project survey results showed that respondents have been affected by the project's efforts. Two project goals were met—greater awareness of what household-generated polluted runoff is and increased understanding that individuals can make a difference. Less success was realized in meeting the goal of increasing people's understanding of how polluted runoff enters local rivers, lakes, and streams.

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