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Maxwell X Lab

Project Report

Coastal Risk Message and Septic Tank Replacement

July 2022

Project Description

  • Partners: NOAA
  • Intervention:  Varied messages on flood risk
  • Method: Survey experiment
  • Outcome:  Framing flood risk by describing the probability of flooding once over a 30-year mortgage was particularly effective at increasing the likelihood of a homeowner replacing their septic system

Project Report

A survey conducted by Syracuse University aimed to assess flood risk perceptions among homeowners meeting specific criteria: homeowners with septic systems living in coastal areas. Participants, randomly assigned to control or two treatment groups, were told about the risks and consequences of flooding on their septic system. The treatment groups were then presented with two different framings of flood risk and asked about their willingness to replace their septic system and support for a subsidy program for septic tank replacement. 

Findings suggest that messaging about flooding probability (Treatment 1) significantly increased the likelihood of homeowners willingness to place their septic system. Homeowners that were told the depth of water inundation conditions for properties with a 100-year flood also expressed greater likelihood of replacing their septic systems, but this result was not significant. High support for a tax and subsidy program was consistent across all groups, with messaging having no significant impact on support levels.

Maxwell X Lab
426 Eggers Hall