The Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game – Division of Ecological Restoration is soliciting responses to pilot a Community-Based Social Marketing (CBSM) approach to reducing household outdoor water use in 2 communities in Northeast Massachusetts. This pilot project builds on research conducted in spring 2016 that identified barriers and benefits for community members to reduce outdoor water use in the summer.
PROJECT PURPOSE AND BACKGROUND
The Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) is interested in testing a variety of water conservation approaches to encourage community members to reduce outdoor water use, specifically lawn watering. While Massachusetts is a relatively wet state, a number of streams and rivers regularly experience below-normal flow conditions in the summer, due in large part to water withdrawals and impervious cover.1 The Ipswich River Watershed in particular has experienced significant flow stress, and estimates suggest that outdoor water use volumes roughly match volumes needed in the river to provide adequate aquatic habitat in the summer.2 Massachusetts is a leader in water conservation in many ways. Many municipal water suppliers in this watershed and beyond use summertime water use restrictions to limit seasonal increases in water use; many also use campaigns such as Greenscapes (http://greenscapes.org/), and a few use seasonally-adjusted water rate structures.
In 2016, DER funded a Community-based Social Marketing Benefit and Barrier research study in 2 communities in the Ipswich River watershed to better understand the social norms that drive current outdoor residential water use practices and to find ways to reduce the barriers and raise the benefits for community members to limit their water use in the summertime.
Those study data measured the current penetration (number of residents already doing the action), impact on wa- ter usage, probability of residents taking action, and applicability to the local community of a long list of behav- iors. The results of that research identified four behaviors as potential target behaviors for a water conservation program including reducing or stopping watering lawns during summer months. The research than determined the barriers and benefits for each of the behaviors and provided initial outreach recommendations to address the barriers and highlight the benefits.
With this bid request, they seek an agency to further develop and refine some of these water conservation strate- gies and to implement and test some of the recommended tools from this study in late spring 2017.
DER seeks a contractor who will help design, implement, and evaluate a pilot study of several outdoor water conservation campaigns, as informed by the Community-based Social Marketing Benefit and Barrier Research, focused on reducing residential outdoor lawn irrigation. They are interested in a Social Norms/Behavioral Feedback campaign as well as a Commitment Campaign but are open to other suggestions as well. Campaigns may include a subset of approaches (e.g. water use comparison, water use comparison and educational material, just educational material) to determine the most effective method.
- Interested in piloting a Social Norms/Behavioral Feedback Campaign targeted at high water users. This campaign should compare water use of individual high water users to more efficient users in same neighborhood and/or with similar property size in the same town. Information should be distributed by mail and comparison data should be presented graphically as well as in simple to understand text.
- Also interested in piloting a Commitment Campaign targeted at high water users. We envision that this campaign would utilize a water conservation pledge to reduce outdoor water use. Exact goals of pledge will be determined in consultation with pilot towns. Those that sign pledge would receive a water conservation yard sign to make commitment public.
DER proposes the expected scope of work below;
Develop Study Design including select appropriate sample size, develop baseline and identify control group
- The study should be targeted at high summer water users and designed with appropriate sample size so that strategies can be evaluated and compared for effectiveness using statistical analysis. Water use data from pilot towns will be available for development of study design, campaign development/implementation and evaluation. For the purposes of data analysis and evaluation, baseline data for selected residential water users that are part of study should be established. A control group should also be identified for the purpose of campaign evaluation.
Develop all messaging and materials for campaigns:
- Both campaigns should incorporate an educational component that addresses barriers identified in the benefits and barriers research study (e.g. the misconception that not watering lawn won’t save much water, the amount of water that grass needs) and increases benefits (e.g. helps the community save water).
- Implementation of campaigns includes the printing and mailing of all materials to residents.
Evaluate reductions in water use
- Evaluation of reductions in residential summer water use after implementation of campaigns should be conducted using appropriate statistical analysis. Reductions in water use should be compared between campaigns and to the control group identified in study design.
Recommendations for next steps
- Provide recommendations for any next steps in a memo.
Proposal due by March 3rd, 2017 by 3pm to:
Department of Fish and Game
251 Causeway Street, Suite 400
Boston, MA 02114
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