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Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Environmental sciences


Risk communication represents the optimal instrument for decreasing the incidence of private groundwater contamination and associated waterborne illnesses. However, despite attempts to promote voluntary well maintenance in high groundwater-reliant regions such as the Republic of Ireland, awareness levels of supply status (e.g. structural integrity) have remained low. As investigations of supply awareness are often thematically narrow and homogeneous with respect to sub-population, revised analyses of awareness among both current and future supply owners (i.e. adults of typical well owner and student age) are necessary. Accordingly, the current study utilised a national survey of well users and an age-based comparison of supply awareness. Awareness was measured among 560 Irish private well users using a multi-domain scoring framework and analysed in conjunction with experiential variables including experience of extreme weather events and previous household infections, and perceived self-efficacy in maintaining supply. Respondents displayed a median overall awareness score of 66.7%, with supply owners (n = 399) and students (n = 161) exhibiting median scores of 75% and 58.3%. Awareness among both combined respondent subsets and well owners was significantly related to gender, well use factors and self-perceived behavioural efficacy while awareness among students was not correlated with any independent variable. Cluster analysis identified three distinct respondent groups characterised by awareness score and gender in both current and future well owner subsets. Male well owners and students displayed higher perceived self-efficacy irrespective of awareness score while female well owners that demonstrated high awareness were significantly more likely to report postgraduate educational (p < 0.001). Findings suggest that recent experience of extreme weather events does not significantly influence supply awareness and mirror previously identified knowledge differences between well owners and young adults.