Views on Water Management from Students of Different Faculties at the University of Calgary: Developing Water Policies Using Focus Groups

  •  Jacqueline Noga    
  •  Gregor Wolbring    


Public participation in water management provides greater understanding of the challenges faced by a community and often leads to greater uptake of any new policies. Water management is a critical part of water security, and water management benefits from public participation. The objective of this research is to gain insight into the perceptions of water held by students at University of Calgary, and their beliefs about water management in Calgary. Focus groups were conducted with Engineering, Medical Science, Environmental Science, and Economics students of the University of Calgary. The focus groups were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. The majority of the discussion was about decreasing Calgary’s current water consumption and ways to go about doing this. This included discussion about the price of water, the use of water-efficient technology, legal regulations, incentives, and increasing awareness about water issues. Each student group had some predominant discussion and ideas unique to their group, and similarities were found amongst the different programs, particularly between the Engineering and Environmental Science groups. The students considered water as primarily a natural resource and a public resource, and some groups also agreed that water is a human right. The ideas about water management indicate that the students wish to see water used more sustainably, however the groups debated different methods for introducing change based on what kind of intervention was thought to be the most effective. The perspectives of the students offered a range of ideas that could provide insight into future management.


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