What do the residents think? Exploring resident perceptions, preferences, behaviours and consequences related to drinking water in the Town of Sunnyside, NL

Issues with municipal drinking water systems ultimately affect the individuals who live within municipalities. While regulation and policy play a role, demand for municipal drinking water is largely driven by these individuals and their household, business and institutional needs and behaviours. Given the importance of individual residents, households and businesses as key actors within drinking water systems there is surprising lack of research on their perceptions, preferences, or behaviours related to drinking water, or on the consequences of these for the operation of drinking water systems and the well- being of residents and their communities in Newfoundland and Labrador (NL).

This project will explore the persistent challenges facing Sunnyside, eastern Newfoundland, primarily through the viewpoint of local residents. These challenges include: threats to source water, water distribution, including high levels of disinfectant by-products (DBPs) – as a result of their current disinfection system- as well as future directions related to these issues. Such issues are common place to many rural municipalities in Newfoundland and Labrador and present a challenge to municipalities in terms of effectively governing their water resources, especially in ensuring residents access to clean and safe drinking water. Though a university-community partnership, this project will facilitate a community- based approach to drinking water related research that will provide the community of Sunnyside with better information regarding resident practices and perceptions towards drinking water. This information will be of critical importance for the municipality in moving towards sustainable solutions with respect to water distribution systems and source water protection and development in the future. Thus, the research objectives here include:

  1. To determine population perspectives and practices related to drinking water security and potential solutions;
  2. To investigate the implications of public perceptions and practices related to drinking water for the operation of drinking water systems and for the well-being of residents and their communities;
  3. To provide recommendations for the municipality and the provincial government in terms addressing resident concerns related to water security (e.g. high levels of contaminants, in particular, elevated concentrations of DBPs, extreme weather events).

Research Team

Project Partners

  • Town of Sunnyside

Project Funders

  • The Harris Centre – RBC Water Research and Outreach Fund