Survey charts progress in awareness

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The Windsor Times, 1/24/13

Do people seem to be getting it that they live in a watershed?  Yes and no, according to a Russian River Watershed Association survey conducted last year.

Almost half (46 percent) of unincorporated Sonoma County residents know they live in a watershed compared to 24 percent of those residing in Santa Rosa.

The survey also found that 40 percent of people aged 45 and over know they live in a watershed, compared to 22 percent of those aged 18 to 44.

When respondents who know that they live in a watershed were asked to name the watershed, 29 percent named the Russian River and 8 percent said the Laguna de Santa Rosa.

But 32 percent of those who know they live in a watershed named a watershed other than the Russian River or Laguna de Santa Rosa, “whether correctly or incorrectly,” according to the survey by Data Instincts of Windsor.

And 18 percent of those surveyed could not name the nearest waterway or refused to answer the question (27 percent of those living in Santa Rosa and 10 percent in unincorporated Sonoma County).

Younger respondents had more difficulty answering the question with 24 percent of 18 to 44 year olds unable to name a waterway near their home versus 16 percent of those over 44 years old.

Nearly 25 percent of renters could not name a waterway compared to 16 percent of homeowners.

Those with a high school education or less has more trouble naming a nearby waterway, 23 percent compared to 15 percent of college grads or post grads.

When asked if they think they, personally, can have any effect on protecting the water quality in the Russian River, local creeks or other local bodies of water, 76 percent said yes, 19 percent said no, and 5 percent did not know.  These findings are nearly identical among Santa Rosa and unincorporated Sonoma County residents.

Bottom Line: “There has been little or no significant change in watershed knowledge measurements among unincorporated Sonoma County residents since the 2005 baseline survey and the 2009 follow-up effort, according to the newest survey data from last year.”