Integrating Hydrogeology with Psychology for Management in a Groundwater-Dependent Community

Wednesday, December 5, 2018: 11:20 a.m.
Exhibit Hall- C4 & C5 (Las Vegas Convention Center)
Will Brewer , Geosciences, Baylor University, Waco, TX
Stephanie S. Wong , Geosciences, Baylor University, Waco, TX
Joe C. Yelderman Jr., PhD, PG , Geosciences, Baylor University, Waco, TX

Understanding stakeholder comprehension and motivations are important in promoting resource conservation and responsible use. Groundwater resources are notoriously misconceptualized in ways not conducive to conservation behaviors, such as envisioning groundwater systems as underground lakes and streams. The current project seeks to integrate commonly-applied principles of psychological research and the hydrogeological understanding of the Northern Segment of the Edwards Balcones Fault Zone aquifer in Central Texas to better understand water use behaviors for the aquifer and an associated spring complex in the village of Salado. This spring complex is important in that it is the only known habitat of a federally-listed Threatened salamander species (Eurycea chisholmensis), as well as one of the main tourism draws in the village. In addition to its ecological and recreational importance, spring flow is a management measure for the local groundwater conservation district.

Electronic surveys and in-field observation are the primary methods of data collection. The surveys facilitate examination of current attitudes towards groundwater in the area and indicate the level of familiarity with groundwater mechanics for the study population. In-field observational data collected at the springs complex contextualize results obtained from completed surveys and reveal potential biases that tourists might have on average spring use. Partnering with the local groundwater conservation district ensures that survey questions will be relevant, and allows the data gathered to be effectively applied to future education and outreach efforts. In understanding the current groundwater usage in the area, it will be possible to better prepare for and promote more effective conservation strategies. Results of this study can also inform future tactics for educating the general public about groundwater.

Will Brewer, Geosciences, Baylor University, Waco, TX
PhD student research in multi-discipline program

Stephanie S. Wong, Geosciences, Baylor University, Waco, TX
Stephanie Wong has a B.S. in environmental science from Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario and an M.S. in geology from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in geology with a hydrogeology focus at Baylor University. Her primary interest is water resources and management in developing communities.

Joe C. Yelderman Jr., PhD, PG, Geosciences, Baylor University, Waco, TX
Joe Yelderman Jr. is a professor in the Department of Geology at Baylor University. He is currently the director of the Institute for Ecological, Earth, and Environmental Sciences. His specialty areas are hydrogeology and environmental geology. His research interests include springs, groundwater/surface-water interactions, and urban hydrogeology.