Social Acceptability of Water Resource Management: A Conceptual Approach and Empirical Findings from Portland, Oregon1


  • Kelli Larson

    1. Assistant Professor, Arizona State University, Schools of Geographical Sciences and Sustainability, PO Box 875302, Tempe, Arizona 85287-5302.
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  • 1

    Paper No. JAWRA-08-0068-P of the Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA). Discussions are open until six months from print publication.



Abstract:  Surface water resources in urban areas serve multiple functions ranging from recreation to wildlife habitat. As a result, diverse values influence people’s views about resource protection, potentially leading to conflicting interests. In metropolitan Portland, Oregon, natural resource planning has recently focused on habitat restoration as well as stormwater and pollution mitigation, especially through the protection of riparian areas. Due to opposition over proposed regulations in the study region, this research examines public attitudes about an array of resource management efforts. The primary research question is: what is the extent of positive–negative attitudes about water resource protection, and what theoretical dimensions underlie diverse judgments? After empirical survey results are presented, I outline a conceptual approach for future assessments of environmental attitudes while highlighting important value-based dimensions of judgments. Although flexible, the framework allows broad comparisons to advance knowledge about the social acceptability of varied water resource management approaches across diverse places and contexts.