Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Lois Wright Morton


An integrated, place-based approach which brings local citizens and stakeholders into the agenda-setting, decision-making, monitoring and enforcement activities within their local watershed has proven to be effective in solving local water problems. A first step in creating effective local, watershed based deliberations is to discover agreement as well as differing viewpoints regarding the importance of and attitudes toward local water resources. Understanding public perceptions of water quality is important because the perceptions will essentially affect the extent to which the public takes action to support public policies and projects designed to solve water quality problems. The objective of this dissertation is to provide a framework for examining the various factors, including environmental attitudes, place of residence, and general state level characteristics that affect the perceptions of individuals about their local water quality.

This research is based on a national water survey completed in thirty-six states of the fifty United States. Three papers focus on different aspects of water quality perceptions and environmental attitudes, place of residence, and other demographic variables associated with water resources. The findings offer policymakers a better understanding of the differences and common grounds regarding water quality issues and provide guidance in building concerted support for solutions to water quality problems. In addition, the study of "don't know" responses delineates populations which are more likely to say they have no opinion about their water quality. The revealed patterns about "don't know" responses provide valuable information for education outreach and the effective promotion of public awareness and knowledge about water quality.


Copyright Owner

Zhihua Hu



Date Available


File Format


File Size

105 pages

Included in

Sociology Commons