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

Will Joseph Brownlie, Bryan Spears, Sandhya Patidar, May Linda, Susan Roaf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-140
Number of pages10
JournalHuman Ecology
Volume43
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2015

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sewage
pollution
lifestyle
eutrophication
vulnerability
drinking water
catchment
phosphorus
water quality

Keywords

  • Phosphorus
  • Policy
  • Private sewage system
  • Pro-environmental behaviour
  • Septic tanks

Cite this

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title = "Assessing pro-environmental behaviour in relation to the management of pollution from private sewage systems",
abstract = "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.",
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Assessing pro-environmental behaviour in relation to the management of pollution from private sewage systems. / Brownlie, Will Joseph; Spears, Bryan; Patidar, Sandhya; Linda, May; Roaf, Susan.

In: Human Ecology, Vol. 43, No. 1, 17.02.2015, p. 131-140.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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