Articles | Volume 21, issue 1
Research article
09 Jan 2017
Research article |  | 09 Jan 2017

Practitioners' viewpoints on citizen science in water management: a case study in Dutch regional water resource management

Ellen Minkman, Maarten van der Sanden, and Martine Rutten

Abstract. In recent years, governmental institutes have started to use citizen science as a form of public participation. The Dutch water authorities are among them. They face pressure on the water governance system and a water awareness gap among the general public, and consider citizen science a possible solution. The reasons for practitioners to engage in citizen science, and in particular those of government practitioners, have seldom been studied. This article aims to pinpoint the various viewpoints of practitioners at Dutch regional water authorities on citizen science. A Q-methodological approach was used because it allows for exploration of viewpoints and statistical analysis using a small sample size. Practitioners (33) at eight different water authorities ranked 46 statements from agree to disagree. Three viewpoints were identified with a total explained variance of 67 %. Viewpoint A considers citizen science a potential solution that can serve several purposes, thereby encouraging citizen participation in data collection and analysis. Viewpoint B considers citizen science a method for additional, illustrative data. Viewpoint C views citizen science primarily as a means of education. These viewpoints show water practitioners in the Netherlands are willing to embrace citizen science at water authorities, although there is no support for higher levels of citizen engagement.

Short summary
The Dutch water authorities face a water awareness gap among the general public, and consider citizen science a possible solution. Practitioners working at these authorities have doubts about citizen motivation and data quality. This systematic study on practitioner’s viewpoints aims to aid the adoption of citizen science by water authorities. Based on structured interviews with 33 practitioners around 48 statements on citizen science, we identified three distinctive viewpoints.