The Utah Water Survey: Reaching out to the Public Statewide


Viewpoints about water from across the state of Utah are being gathered through iUTAH’s ongoing Utah Water Survey, an innovative research effort that engages university and high school students in data collection and analysis, then offers water managers and the public a chance to explore the data through an interactive web tool.


The Utah Water Survey is an offshoot of the iUTAH Household Survey, a detailed study conducted in Summer 2014 to learn how households in iUTAH’s three research watersheds use and think about water in their daily lives. To train students and high school teachers how to conduct survey research, social scientists Courtney Flint and Douglas Jackson-Smith of Utah State University created a scaled-down version of the household survey and uploaded it onto iPads so it could be administered at any place and time.


The training session proved popular and successful, so Jackson-Smith recruited colleagues at Salt Lake Community College, Southern Utah University, The University of Utah, Utah Valley University, Weber State University, and Rowland Hall, a private high school, to involve their own students in data collection. Surveys have been conducted at grocery and department stores and other public places from St. George to Logan. As of October 2015 nearly 6,500 surveys had been administered.


To share what the Utah Water Survey has helped us learn so far, the survey team has collaborated with iUTAH’s Cyberinfrastructure team and Visualization Lab to create a web-based survey data-viewing platform. The site allows users to ask their own queries about the data, including limiting responses to a specific ZIP code or cross-tabulating responses by two different variables.