Preparing For Local Adaptation
A Study of Community Understanding and Support
Published in: Climatic Change, Volume 145, Issue 3-4, pages 413-429 (2017). doi: 10.1007/s10584-017-2088-8
Posted on RAND.org on November 27, 2018
Aging and insufficient infrastructure contribute to urban runoff events, contaminating streets, basements, and waterways. Runoff events are expected to increase as climate change heralds more intense and frequent storm events. To manage the risk of these events, municipalities have created or are creating stormwater utilities using some combination of green and gray infrastructure. Municipalities face the challenge of garnering community support for a new utility fee with no perceptible benefits to many community members. To help municipalities develop stormwater communications, we surveyed 1385 Pittsburgh residents on the following: (1) beliefs and knowledge about stormwater, (2) perceived chances and drivers of stormwater runoff events, (3) support for green and gray stormwater infrastructure improvements in order to address the risks of stormwater runoff events, and (4) the factors that explain their support. We found that people largely understand the risks but do not feel that the risks are that high or that current infrastructure is lacking. Despite this, we found support for creating a dedicated source of funding to manage stormwater, especially among those who see that current infrastructure is adequately handling the risk of runoff events and with elevated risk perceptions. Furthermore, people tend to favor green infrastructure over gray. In summary, municipalities may have less to worry about than previously feared among those who are interested and aware of the topic. However, they may be able to garner more support with outreach efforts that focus on explaining the need for infrastructure and on its benefits.