Professor of Sociology Joan Brehm is helping to conduct an assessment of water use and perceptions about water quality in the Lake Bloomington and Lake Evergreen watersheds.

Brehm will work this spring with the McLean County Soil and Water Conservation District and the City of Bloomington, which received funding from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct a watershed social assessment to gain an understanding of people’s perceptions about the watersheds.

“Locally, Lakes Bloomington and Evergreen provide source water for over 80,000 residential customers and recreation opportunities for a growing population,” said Brehm.

The study comes in the wake of the Environmental Protection Agency acknowledging that non-point source (NPS) pollution is the leading source of water-quality degradation–from fertilizer and pesticide use to landscaping and failing septic systems. “As urban populations continue to grow, NPS pollution from lawn care practices and increasing use of impermeable surfaces will only rise in concern,” said Brehm, who noted securing safe and adequate water resources for the future will demand attention and planning.

image of Joan Brehm

Professor of Sociology Joan Brehm

A random sample of 1,000 residential households will be selected to complete a household survey during spring 2015. Households that are within the watershed or receive their source water from Lake Bloomington and Lake Evergreen will be the targeted population, including residential households in the Village of Hudson, the Village of Towanda, north Normal and the City of Bloomington.

“We’re looking to evaluate residents’ general level of knowledge and concerns of water quality,” said Brehm. “We’ll also be examining their understanding of the impact activities and practices have on water quality.” The study will also include questions about onsite waste systems and conservation practices.

Undergraduate and Graduate students will be involved in the research as research assistants. One of their main roles will be to administer the survey to all selected households in person during the last three weeks in May 2015.

Watch WMBD-TV’s recent report about Brehm’s work: Local Sociologist Helps with Twin Cities Watershed Survey.

For more information about the project, contact Brehm at or (309) 438-7177.