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Public Opinion Surveys

A total of seven surveys of Tippecanoe County residents have been completed as part of Wabash River Enhancement Corporation and Purdue University Natural Resources Social Science Lab efforts. These surveys each have their own focus and goals and are described in more details below. WREC and our partners completed seven public opinion surveys since 2006. Surveys target a variety of landowners throughout Tippecanoe County and the Greater Lafayette Region. The first survey occurred in 2006 and targeted random landowners throughout Tippecanoe County. In 2009, two surveys occurred – one targeting agricultural landowners only and one targeting Lafayette/West Lafayette residents. Two surveys conducted in 2010 targeted the same general populations but focused specifically on water quality issues aimed at increasing adoptions of practices to improve water quality. In 2014, another survey was conducted. The target of this survey was to compare responses of urban residents that did and did not have a rain barrel. In 2016, an almost identical survey focusing on water quality was sent out to urban residents in 2016 to monitor any changes in public opinions. 

2016 Urban Resident Survey

A survey was conducted during the summer of 2016. This survey was mailed out to urban residents in Tippecanoe County. The questions in this survey were mostly the same as the 2014 survey to be able to compare any changes.

Executive Summary of Watershed Urban Residency Survey

2014 Urban Residents vs Rain Barrel Adoptees Survey

In 2014, two surveys were conducted and compared. One survey targeted urban residents in the area while the other was for those who had adopted rain barrels. Both surveys asked the same questions including their opinions on water quality issues and perception about local water quality.

Executive Summary Rain Barrel Adoptee Survey

Executive Summary Urban Residents vs Rain Barrel Adoptees Survey Comparison  

2010 Urban and Agricultural Awareness, Attitudes and Behavior Survey

WREC's ability to conduct effective education and outreach depends upon: 1) Understanding how people feel about local water quality resources; 2) How much they know about water quality concerns; 3) What practices they adopt on the land they manage; and 4) What factors affect their land management decisions. In order to assess differences between agricultural and urban populations, two distinct surveys were developed as part of the Greater Lafayette Watershed Management Planning project. For the rural survey, 715 producers were selected receive the survey with 51% of those surveyed responding. For the urban survey, 1097 residents were selected to receive the survey with 38% of those surveyed responding.

Survey results indicate that measures of attitudes toward water quality concerns between rural and urban populations are similar. Most Tippecanoe County residents believe that good water quality is important for the communities in which they live for both economic and quality-of-life reasons. Most individuals feel a degree of personal responsibility for the actions they take that affect local water resources; however, they are likely unwilling to pay for improvements in the water resource. It is clear that individuals frequently feel that they must compromise between desired environmental outcomes and their financial concerns.

Summary Report

Urban Survey Results
Agricultural Survey Results

2010 Tippecanoe County Farmers Survey

Farmers throughout Tippecanoe County were queried on their opinions about and connection to the land in 2010. Results of the survey indicate that farmers feel a strong connection to the land, specifically the land on which they farm. Respondents indicate a strong desire to protect their land, a willingness to accept input from local and governmental agencies to be more productive and a desire to do the right thing for their land more than for the Wabash River.

Survey Results

  • More than 85% of farmers want to continue to live in Tippecanoe County.

  • Nearly 80% of farmers identify with the lifestyles and values of people who live in Tippecanoe County with nearly 90% indicating that Tippecanoe County is a good place to raise a family.

  • 95% of farmers indicated a willingness to help their neighbors with 88% indicating that they can depend on their neighbors and friends if they need help.

  • Nearly 50% of farmers indicate that farm-based compensation should be based on the productivity of the land.

  • 92% of the farmers indicate their awareness that location and slope can contribute larger volumes of pollutants than other fields.

  • Most farmers reject the concept that fields with higher potential water quality impacts should be subject to stricter regulations or receive higher priority for funding opportunities.

  • Nearly 70% of farmers indicate that concern with unfamiliar practices, their impact on productivity and crop yields and potential interference from funding agencies as the main limitations of accepting monies to implement conservation practices.

  • 95% of farmers indicate that successful farmers are those that continuously evaluate environmental impacts to their farm and adopt new approaches to protect the environment.

View Report 

2009 Views on the Wabash River Survey

In the winter of 2009, the Wabash River Enhancement Corporation and Purdue University conducted a fact-finding survey to collect information about local resident's perceptions and awareness of the Wabash River. The data collected will be used to help shape outreach efforts provided by WREC. The survey was funded by the Living Laboratories on the Wabash (LLOW). The report was prepared by the Natural Resources Social Science Lab in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources at Purdue University.

Eight hundred and fifty (850) residents in Tippecanoe County were selected for participation in this survey. Respondents could complete the questionnaire in two ways; by completing the survey on-line, or filling out and returning a paper copy of the survey. Two hundred fifty-seven (257) people chose to complete the paper copy of the survey and 56 people completed the survey online, yielding a 39.9% response rate.

Results of the survey indicate that most individuals (>80%) identify the Wabash River as a symbol of the region. Furthermore, Tippecanoe County residents like living along the river and like being a river city. However, a majority indicated their concern that no matter the level of effort, cleaning up the Wabash River seems an impossible task.

Survey Results

  • 83% viewed the Wabash River as a symbol of the region.

  • 78% said that the parks along the Wabash provide opportunities for children to play and interact with nature.

  • 78% agreed that it is important for community members to take an active role in determining the future of the Wabash River.

  • 55% said that they don’t spend much time thinking about the Wabash River.

  • 50% admitted that they don’t know very much about the river’s natural processes.

  • 91% agreed that there was potential to make the river cleaner and healthier.

  • 69% thought that funding to revitalize the river is a great investment in our future.

  • 44% said they would minimize their stormwater impact by installing a rain barrel or rain garden; 21% said they would use their project plot as a public demonstration area.

View Report

2006 Living Laboratories on the Wabash Survey

This survey was conducted by the Living Laboratories on the Wabash group at Purdue University in partnership with the Wabash River Enhancement Corporation. This survey targeted all Tippecanoe County residents – residents were randomly selected from all parcels listed throughout the county. Survey results helped LLOW and WREC understand Tippecanoe County residents’ interactions with the Wabash River and their general environmental attitudes, values and behaviors.

Survey Results

  • 78% of respondents agreed that the Wabash River was important to them.

  • Only 14% of respondents thought that the community was doing enough to preserve and enhance the Wabash River.

  • 85% agreed that urban growth and development should be directed in ways to preserve open space.

  • Riehle Plaza and the Meyers Pedestrian Bridge were the most commonly visited sites along the Wabash River; both sites scored more than 50% visitation in the previous 12 months.

  • 64% of respondents applied fertilizer to their lawn/garden in the last year.

  • Nearly a third (32%) of respondents did not know how often a septic system should be maintained.

  • 57% did not know if Midwestern agricultural production contributed to the "dead zone" (hypoxic zone) in the Gulf of Mexico.

  • Nearly half (49%) of respondents reported that they did not always pick up their pet’s outdoor waste.

  • 62% of respondents had never heard of the Wabash River Enhancement Corporation (WREC) and only 11% of respondents knew what WREC was trying to accomplish.

View Report