Understanding the Adoption, Maintenance, Diffusion of Urban Stormwater Management Practices

Yuling Gao, Purdue University


Urbanization increases stormwater volume and decreases infiltration capacity due to the impact of added impervious surfaces and reduced vegetation. Urban stormwater management practices (SMPs) employ control and treatment measures to mitigate water runoff and break down pollutants using a natural approach, which has proven to be effectively protecting the hydrological process of streams. Though a significant number of empirical studies identified the effectiveness of urban SMPs, a few studies have investigated individuals’ perceptions about the approach and factors that influence decision-making on its implementation. This dissertation is intended to investigate the adoption, maintenance, and diffusion of urban SMPs through mail surveys, practice assessment, in-person interviews, and intercept surveys in the Region of the Great Bend of the Wabash River watershed, Indiana. The findings suggest factors of SMP adoption that fit within themes of self-interest, such as the economic savings of using rainwater from rain barrels and the effectiveness of managing flooding by using rain gardens, were perceived to be more beneficial than environmental benefits. Cognitive barriers exist in those who have yet to adopt the practices, including concerns about effectiveness, maintenance, aesthetics, and risk of bugs and insects. However, individuals who have adopted the practice are less likely to have such discouraging mindset. Other predictors includes adopter’s aspiration of responsibility towards the local river and the availability of program grant. Moreover, the research finds affective factors, such as emotions and feelings, influence adopters’ continued maintenance of practices. Concerns like the longevity of required components, the effectiveness to solve overflow issues, the existence of weeds, and the cost of continued maintenance, affect their maintenance experience. Finally, regarding the diffusion among communities, adopters can serve as the communicator for neighbors who have interest in urban SMPs in neighborhoods, while a well-designed signage can serve as the communicator in public spaces.




Prokopy, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Social research|Environmental Studies|Water Resources Management|Public policy

Off-Campus Purdue Users:
To access this dissertation, please log in to our
proxy server