Assessing pro-environmental behaviour in relation to the management of pollution from private sewage systems

Brownlie, Will J.; Spears, Bryan M.; Patidar, Sandhya; May, Linda; Roaf, Susan. 2015 Assessing pro-environmental behaviour in relation to the management of pollution from private sewage systems. Human Ecology, 43 (1). 131-140.

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Recent studies suggest that 80 % of the estimated 1.5 million private sewage systems (PSS) in the UK are working inefficiently, potentially threatening drinking water quality and human health, as well as providing a significant source of phosphorus (P) to freshwater bodies, increasing vulnerability to eutrophication. In this report we explore pro-environmental behaviours of PSS users that potentially offer significant reduction in both PSS system failure and P discharge by 1) reducing P input to the PSS by modifying domestic behaviour, and 2) reducing the risk of PSS failure by improving maintenance of the PSS. A detailed questionnaire of 156 PSS users in the catchment of Loch Leven, Scotland, UK, revealed 70 % of users feel responsible for maintaining their PSS, 46 % are potentially maintaining them ineffectively, nearly 30 % have poorly installed systems and 45 % report their PSS had, at some point, blocked or overflowed. Our results indicate that the most effective action to improve PSS operation would be to provide better guidance on low P lifestyles and correct PSS maintenance with an improvement in the provision of facilities to support these pro-environmental behaviours.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Dise
ISSN: 0300-7839
Additional Keywords: pro-environmental behaviour, phosphorus, septic tanks, private sewage system, policy
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 27 Mar 2015 12:07 +0 (UTC)

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