The Bangor Area Stormwater Group (BASWG) is a collaboration of Bangor, Brewer, Hampden, Milford, Old Town, Orono, Veazie, Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center, Eastern Maine Community College, Maine Air National Guard, University of Maine Augusta – Bangor and University of Maine. Their mission is to use public education and sound science to improve regional water quality through collaborative stormwater management in the Greater Bangor Urbanized Area. The BASWG works jointly to support individual MS4 compliance with six minimum control measures: education and outreach, public involvement, illicit discharge detection and elimination, construction, post construction, and good housekeeping/pollution prevention. Their marketing challenge was to increase public awareness of stormwater pollution in BASWG’s areas of operation, while educating the public about what they can do to prevent stormwater pollution.
Our first step was to develop a new brand identity for the BASWG – the collaboration has a long name that’s hard to remember, and its unique acronym is a tongue twister! We understood that most people did not know about the group or what its mission was. We began by developing a new logo that would easily connect the name of the group with its main focus — clean water. Following the newly created brand guidelines, we developed a new website that would act as a hub of educational resources for the communities and partners the collaboration serves. We also created social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram, which we manage daily and post to three times per week. Since the launch of the social media pages, we have built a robust followership and keep users engaged with educational information about how they can prevent stormwater pollution.
We also developed an animated video, which was debuted at the Maine Science Festival in Bangor and aimed to educate children about water pollutants and how they affect the environment and our lives. You can view the animation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fY1BlgYNpaU. To keep children even more engaged, we developed a video game reminiscent of old Mario Nintendo games. Our goal was to educate and entertain parents and children about daily activities that cause stormwater runoff pollution. We focused on educating the public about the pollution potential of lawn fertilization, animal waste, car washing, and oil leaks. Play the game for yourself here: http://baswg.org/stomp-out-pollution. To help gauge the efficacy of the BASWG’s outreach efforts, we provided market research in the form of in-person and online surveys, and focus groups. Our comprehensive reports helped the BASWG learn where there were gaps in their messaging, and have also helped strategize for future campaigns. In the summer of 2016, Pulse conducted a cursory evaluation of impact indicators within the BASWG’s education and outreach efforts. This informal analysis consisted of surveying participants in the region using the BASWG’s standardized impact questionnaire, which explores awareness and behavior. The survey produced the following results:
- 85% of respondents believed that stormwater has either somewhat of or a major impact on local waterways.
- 62% shared that they had recently heard of the BASWG’s efforts to reduce use of lawn care chemicals.
- 10.3% indicated they were aware of these efforts and planned to reduce their use of lawn care chemicals.
- 53.6% had seen a commercial about following the flow of stormwater and 11.9% were unsure whether or not they had.
- Data also indicated a proclivity for moving towards changed lawn care practices. While 72% already say they have reduced or eliminated use of lawn care chemicals, 19.38% say that they “probably will” do so in the future. Again, there was a small group that did not plan to reduce their use (8.75%).
We’re currently in the process of conducting a series of focus groups and another online survey to measure the change in behavior since last year.