case studies

Shelby County Water Survey



Shelby County Water Survey, as part of the Aquifer Sustainability Project

A key pillar of CAESER’s work is educating the public, utilities, government agencies and industry about our water resources. In order to effectively and efficiently approach this, the Division of Education and Outreach commissioned a survey with University of Memphis Center for Community Research and Evaluation (CCRE). This survey was the first of its kind in our region and serves as a baseline to measure environmental education and outreach efforts moving forward. CAESER and CCRE developed a scientifically valid survey instrument to measure the following items among the general population of Shelby County, Tennessee:

  1. Knowledge of water resources and environmental terminology
  2. Perceived attitudes, threats and concerns about water
  3. Current behaviors that impact water resources
  4. Where people receive messaging and consume information

A 15-minute survey was developed with feedback from over 65 stakeholders and community members. The primary collection method was mail, with additional outreach conducted by phone and electronic means to ensure we received responses across social demographics and geographical boundaries. When tailoring the survey instrument, we strived to make research design decisions that would allow portability of the survey tool for a future study across Tennessee. This would fit a need within Tennessee’s 2018 state water plan, TN H2O, where a key recommendation is to conduct a communication campaign to help the public understand the value and complexity of water resources.

We collected 488 valid responses that create a representative sample of Shelby County households with statistically significant survey report. The findings were weighted by gender, race, age, education, and income to ensure all sectors of the population are represented. The final sample had a 95% margin of error for the full survey of +/- 4.4%.

Sample of Findings:

55% of Shelby County was concerned with the condition of our water infrastructure BEFORE the snowstorm of February 2021.

When asked if the government is doing enough to protect rivers, lakes, and streams, 59% of Shelby County disagreed and only 12% agreed.