• small business;
  • ground water pollution prevention;
  • innovation adoption;
  • water resources education;
  • water policy/regulation/decision-making;
  • government-business relationship

ABSTRACT: Although they have not been the focus of major regulations, small businesses can contribute pollutants to ground water through routine practices. Because strict regulation of millions of micro firms is not likely, water resource professionals face a challenge of how to reach small business operators with effective pollution prevention messages. The purpose of this study was to examine the factors that influence a small business operator to adopt measures that reduce potential ground water pollution. We looked at how information delivery, internal business characteristics, and external relationships are associated with voluntary preventive measures. Mail surveys from small businesses in New Jersey municipalities and interviews with business owners provided data about business characteristics and current pollution prevention activities. Findings suggested that businesses doing the most to prevent ground water pollution were generally more connected to external organizations and had more financial and technical resources. The study also discovered that small business owners fear government involvement in their affairs. The study concludes with recommendations to encourage more voluntary adoption of prevention measures by businesses. These center on separating assistance programs from enforcement and involving industry peer groups in an effort to make information available in a non-threatening manner.