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UTAH WATER SURVEY: Perceptions and Concerns about Water Issues

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Created: Jul 25, 2016 at 10:13 p.m.
Last updated: Feb 01, 2017 at 5:32 a.m.
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Researchers at Utah State University created a short survey instrument to gather information about the views and concerns of Utah residents related to water issues. This survey was designed to give the public a chance to share their perceptions and concerns about water supply, water quality, and other related issues. While finding out what the ‘average citizen’ feels about key water issues was one goal of the project, the most interesting and important results are found in exploring ways in which perspectives about water vary across the population based on where people live and their demographic background (gender, age, education, etc.). This survey helps bring a voice to groups of citizens typically not represented in water policy debates. The findings have been and continue to be shared with water managers and decision makers who are planning for local and state water system sustainability.

This survey effort is also a key outreach and education component of the iUTAH project. High school groups, college and university classes, and others are invited to collaborate with iUTAH faculty to conduct public intercept surveys. Co-collection and analysis of survey data provides a hands-on learning opportunity about the principles of social science research. This effort helps increase awareness about the complexity of water issues in Utah, and the methods through which scientists learn about the public’s thoughts and concerns. Between July 2014 and April 2016, the survey has been implemented with collaborating students and faculty from the University of Utah, Utah Valley University, Weber State University, Salt Lake Community College, Southern Utah University, Dixie State University, and Snow College.

The survey involved using a structured protocol to randomly approach adults entering grocery stores in communities across the state, and inviting them to complete a 3-minute questionnaire about thier perceptions and concerns about water issues in Utah. The survey was self-administered on an iPad tablet and uploaded to a web server using the Qualtrics Offline App.

The project generated responses from over 7,000 adults, with a response rate of just over 42% . Comparisons of the respondents with census data suggest that they are largely representative of the communities where data were collected and of the state's adult population.

The data are anonymous and are available as a public dataset here. The data also served as the basis for the development of an open-source web-based survey data viewer that can be found at: and were also reported in Jones et al. (2016). We encourage users to use the viewer to explore the survey results.

The files below include a document describing in detail the method/protocol used in the study, and copies of field materials we used to implement the project. We also include copies of the full dataset and a codebook in various formats.

Subject Keywords



Coordinate System/Geographic Projection:
WGS 84 EPSG:4326
Coordinate Units:
Decimal degrees
Place/Area Name:
North Latitude
East Longitude
South Latitude
West Longitude


Start Date:
End Date:


Additional Metadata

Name Value
Observed Variables concern about water issues, perceptions of water quality, perceptions of water shortages, age of respondent, education of respondent, gender of respondent, originally from utah, has family ties to farmers, respondent zipcode
Variable Description Various attributes of respondents (demographic, attitudinal) -see codebook
Data Collection Method The survey was administered by trained teams of undergraduates using systematic sampling procedures to approach adults entering grocery stores. A diverse set of stores were selected to ensure geographic coverage across most of the major urban centers in the state. Adults were asked to complete the survey on electronic tablets. Data collection at each location was conducted over several days of the week and times of day for a total of 6-10 hours to ensure representation of the shopping public.
Data Processing Method Data were downloaded from qualtrics and cleaned before posting as a public dataset. Cleaning involved eliminating responses from individuals who were not at least 18 years old, people who live in zipcodes outside of Utah, and cases where most variables were missing.


Funding Agencies

This resource was created using funding from the following sources:
Agency Name Award Title Award Number
National Science Foundation iUTAH-innovative Urban Transitions and Aridregion Hydro-sustainability 1208732


People or Organizations that contributed technically, materially, financially, or provided general support for the creation of the resource's content but are not considered authors.

Name Organization Address Phone Author Identifiers
Britt Mace Southern Utah University
Jay DeSart Utah Valley University
Dan Poole Salt Lake Community College
Gary Johnson Weber State University
Sara Yeo University of Utah
Jordan Risley Utah State University

How to Cite

Jackson-Smith, D., C. Flint (2017). UTAH WATER SURVEY: Perceptions and Concerns about Water Issues, HydroShare,

This resource is shared under the Creative Commons Attribution CC BY.


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