The Gunpowder Valley Conservancy (GVC) and its partners will conduct a behavior change campaign to promote three residential stormwater BMP’s within the Middle River (MR), Tidal Gunpowder (TG), and Bird River (BR) watersheds. The three BMP’s are: • Install, use and maintain rain barrels. • Install, use and maintain rain gardens. • Replace unneeded lawn areas with beds of low maintenance native vegetation, especially near waterways. (Bayscaping) The specific objectives of the project are: • Install 50 rain barrels. • Install 8 rain gardens. • Install 6 Bayscapes.


Behaviors: Install a rain garden, Rain barrel installation and use, Conservation landscaping

Behavior Pattern: One-time

Why was this behavior selected?

This project was developed to help implement the Small Watershed Action Plans (SWAPs) created by Baltimore County for the MR/TG/BR watersheds. The GVC served on the Steering Committee for the MR/TG SWAP in 2010-2011 and is the organization tasked with engaging citizens to implement restoration projects that are identified in the SWAP. We decided to utilize social marketing to help us achieve that goal. We conducted social marketing research in 2012 in the MR/TG watersheds, which resulted in the selection of rain barrels, rain gardens and Bayscaping as the three behaviors we would promote. A social marketing consultant also helped us engage the local community to choose the name of the project: Clear Creeks: Our Water, Our Heritage, Our Pride. We implemented a pilot campaign in the MR/TG watersheds in 2013, and began broad implementation in 2014. The SWAP for Bird River (BR), an adjoining watershed, was completed in 2014, so we decided to expand the Clear Creeks Project to Bird River in 2015.

This behavior change campaign is connected to three other watershed stewardship activities that will be taking place in the MR/TG/BR watersheds: 1) It will help implement Baltimore County’s Small Watershed Action Plans (SWAPs) for these areas. 2) It is a major focus of the Clear Creeks Project, a project in the MR/TG/BR watersheds focused on engaging citizens to take restoration actions that are identified in the SWAPs, including rain barrels, rain gardens, Bayscaping, tree planting, and stream cleanups. 3) It complements the Bird River Restoration Project, a citizen-led campaign to clean up Bird River by reducing sediment pollution.

Target Audiences

Audiences: Waterfront/riparian landowners, Rowhome/town home/condo owners/renters, Detached single family homeowners/renters

Primary Audience: Detached single family homeowners/renters

Secondary Audience: Rowhome/town home/condo owners/renters

Demographics: Asia/pacificislander, Black or african american, Hispanic or latino, Native american or indian, White

Ages: N/A

Description of Target Audience

The community that will be served by this project is residents of the MR/TG and BR watersheds. We will engage a wide audience within these watersheds regardless of ethnicity, nationality, origin, culture, education, or socioeconomic status.

Based on the 2010 Census, the MR/TG and BR watersheds following demographic characteristics:

Gunpowder Watersheds/ Bird River Watershed

Total Population 35,221 60,899

White 77.82% 73.61%

Black 16.27% 14.73%

Native American 0.5% 0.28%

Asian 1.51% 7.83%

Pacific Islander 0.03% 0.03%

Other 1.36% 1.2%

Two or more races 2.51% 2.32%

Not of Hispanic or Latino origin

95.97% 96.1%

Hispanic or Latino origin 4.03% 3.9%

The population in these watersheds is mostly white. There is also a significant percentage of Black residents. The GVC has been working in the MR/TG watershed for about three years, and we have many years of experience working in other watersheds with similar demographic characteristics.


How did you research your audiences: A combination of in-person interviews or focus groups and then broader surveys


  • We have insufficient funding to do all that we want to do.
  • We need to improve the reporting mechanism by which the Bay-Wise Stewards report back to us so we can evaluate their output and outcome.
  • Workshop attendance is varied so we need better ways to market them.
  • We recently lost a key project volunteer, Betty Sherbs, who was an expert in marketing. We miss her energy, enthusiasm, skills, and insights.

The likely adopters’ top two concerns are that rain barrels may attract mosquitos and that they may not know how to use and install them. Therefore, we will overcome these barriers by providing free technical workshops and technical assistance with installation. Cost is the third barrier, and we will overcome this by offering a 50% cost sharing.

The top two barriers to replacing lawns were knowing what to plant, the cost to install and mulch, and concern over how it will look. It it is particularly important to emphasize technical assistance in order to overcome these barriers to adopting this behavior. Therefore, we will offer free workshops to train people on how to do it and we will offer free technical assistance with installation. This training and technical assistance will also help them make their yard beautiful, since concern about how it will look was another barrier. We will also provide 60% cost sharing to address the concern about the cost to install and mulch.

Our likely adopters perceive lack of technical knowledge, cost, and installation labor as the three most significant barriers to installing rain gardens. Therefore we will offer free technical workshops and free technical assistance to they will know how to install the rain garden. To overcome the cost barrier we will offer 80% cost sharing. To address the concern about the time and effort required to install a rain garden we will hire a contractor to do the most labor intensive work and we will mobilize volunteers to assist with the planting.

External factors

Existing development plans and development projects are a big concern for many residents. But that also gives us a place of common connection in terms of marketing. Peter Mitchell told us that if we want to reach people we have to meet them at an issue that is of concern to them and begin there. To do that runs the risk of ruffling feathers though. It’s a bit of powder keg issue with people on both sides. The political shift against the storm water fee and its possible repeal could effect the climate in terms of seeing storm water management issues as important. It could also lead to reduction in County matching funds and require application to alternative sources for grant funding. Economic problems could result in homeowners having less money to spend on stormwater BMP’s.


  • We have experienced staff and contractors, including licensed landscape
  • designers.
  • We have strong partnerships with a variety of groups including local community associations, government agencies, local businesses, and nonprofit organizations.
  • Community association leaders effectively promote the Clear Creeks project
  • within their respective community associations.
  • An active Steering Committee consisting of 26 people representing our partner
  • organizations meets quarterly to guide the project.
  • We have many committed volunteers who contribute hundreds of hours of
  • volunteer labor to the Clear Creeks Project.
  • The Baltimore County Master Gardeners provide an effective social marketing tool – the Maryland Bay-Wise Yard Certification program. This program engages local homeowners and encourages them to adopt Bay-friendly landscape management practices, including installing rain barrels, rain gardens and Bayscapes.
  • The Clear Creeks Bay-Wise Stewards provide a tremendous promotional
  • advantage. We now have members of our target audience—community members within the neighborhoods—as Clear Creek’s Bay-Wise Stewards. They have pledged to actively help us with social diffusion and have done so thus far through person to person outreach as well as participation within/creation of creative communication channels.
  • The Holly Neck Conservation Association, a local environmental non-profit
  • organization, is a key project partner and has provided funding for rain barrels for its members.
  • We have established good relationships with local media outlets.

Our likely adopters believe that environmental benefits such as conserving and recycling water, decreasing water pollution, and increasing ground water absorption are the most important benefits, so we will emphasis these in our promotional materials. Protecting the home from water damage is also important so we will also explain how rain barrels do this. Cost savings realized from implementation of this practice were perceived as the least important benefit and therefore it does not need to be emphasized. The likely adopters perceive the environmental aspects such as feeling good about helping the environment, reducing run-off and supporting wildlife as being most important. The fact that a homeowner can save money by replacing their lawn with native plants is the least important benefit. Therefore, we will emphasize the environmental benefits of replacing lawn with native plants. All six potential benefits tested are important promotional aspects of rain gardens. A greater percentage of the likely adopters perceived the benefits as being important than the population as a whole.

Gaining insight into your target audience

When we conducted our market research in 2012 we segmented our audience by conducting one telephone survey of 250 people within the MR/TG watershes, which enabled us to gather data about the age, gender, education level, and proximity to area waterways of the likely adopters. We found that those most likely to adopt the behaviors are female, age 46-64, and college educated. One of the most interesting findings of the market research we conducted in 2012 is that the most likely adopters of the rain barrels, rain gardens and conservation landscapes are middle-aged (45-64), educated women. Our results at the completion of the first 2 years of the project support this conclusion. Of those who have implemented BMP’s, 59% were women and 36% were men. (If a male-female couple implemented a BMP, we categorized them based on which member of the couple was the primary advocate for the project – the male, the female, or both equally.) The same exact result was true for those who certified their yards Bay Wise (13/22 were women 59%; the other 2 certifications were by couples.) Edible landscapes by themselves, showed this result at a greater rate, 75% or 6/8 installations were by women; 88 % (22/25) of the yard assessments were for women; and interestingly 71% (5/7) of the assessments lined up for 2015 are for women. Our program is open to all community residents regardless of gender, age, or education. However, we did target women with a winter mailer by using stories of mostly women adopters implementing Bay-Wise practices. Anna Renault, a Sue Creek area resident active in our project, who we intentionally featured as the lead story in the mailer, reported an extremely favorable response with over 120 people contacting her personally about the project and her involvement in it. Anna estimated 75% of those respondents were women. Of those contacting GVC, 14 respondents, 93% were women, and 86% of whom have taken part in the project, (implementing a BMP, attending a workshop, or volunteered on a restoration project.) So, the messaging seems to have effectively reached the target audience and beyond. We will continue to explore ways to reach our most likely adopters and, through their participation, engage even more people, including their families and friends.


Outreach Tactics: Extrinsic rewards, Feedback, How-to-skills, Intrinsic rewards, Public commitment statements, Social diffusion, Social norms

What media/communication channels did you use? Direct mail, Events, Face to face, Online or other digital media, Organization methods (through constituents of influential community organizations), Small group or public meetings

Products and services

We will sell the following tangible objects:

Rain barrels Native plants for rain gardens and Bayscapes

We will provide the following services to help homeowners adopt our three practices:

Rain Barrels

• We will provide free rain barrel workshops where homeowners can learn about rain barrels, get assistance assembling them, and purchase them.

• Our rain barrel intern will visit homeowner’s residences to assist with installation and maintenance.

Rain Gardens

• We will provide free rain garden workshops, yard assessments, rain garden designs, and help with installation.


• We will provide free Bayscapes workshops, yard assessments, rain garden designs, and help with installation.

Bay-Wise Yard Certifications

• Volunteer Master Gardeners will conduct yard certifications. During these site visits they will advise homeowners about BMP’s that they can install in their yards.

Cost or Trade Off

Homeowners will have to pay a share of the cost to implement the BMP’s:

Rain barrels:

$30 per rain barrel (50% of the cost)

Rain gardens:

$130 per garden for materials (20% of the cost) $240 per garden for installation contractor (20% of the cost)


$260 per garden for Bayscape materials (40% of the cost)

Edible Bayscapes

$100 per garden for Edible Bayscape materials (40% of the cost)

7.2.2 Will there be any monetary incentives for target markets (e.g., coupons, rebates for purchasing native plants)?

Yes. We will use grant funding to pay for technical assistance and provide a cost share for the materials. Specifically, we have a grant from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources that will pay for the following:

Rain barrels:

$30 per rain barrel (50% of the cost) $58.44 per rain barrel for technical assistance with installation and maintenance

Rain gardens:

$520 per garden for materials (80% of the cost) $960 per garden for installation contractor (80% of the total cost) $1,723.20 per garden for technical assistance with site assessment, design & installation


$390 per garden for Bayscape materials (60% of the cost) $ 1,467.20 per garden for technical assistance with site assessment, design & installation

Edible Bayscapes

$300 per garden for Edible Bayscape materials (60% of the total cost) $ 1,931.20 per garden for technical assistance with site assessment, design & installation


We will encourage and support them in a variety of places. We will give project presentations at the following locations:

the targeted neighborhood community association meetings churches HOA communities our watershed wide Kick Off event our project educational BMP workshops our garden tour of existing BMPs Bay-Wise yard certification community parties existing community activities (such as a community parade, and spring and fall festivals) at our design workshops

Primary Messages

We want residents of high pollution/high restoration potential neighborhoods, as defined by Baltimore County in Small Watershed Action Plans for three separate watersheds, to see installing rain barrels, rain gardens and bayscapes as a means to reduce water pollution and help improve water clarity so they can “see their feets in the creeks again”, preserve their waterfront way of life, conserve resources, provide habitat for wildlife and beneficial pollinators, and beautify their yards.


How did you measure impact? Attendance List, Survey, Tracking

Total People Reached

Status as of 8/15/15: (Outcomes/Goals)

# of Rain Barrels: 37/50

# of Rain Gardens: 4/8

# of Lawns replaced by Bayscapes: 7/6

# of Bay-Wise Certified yards: 12/10

# of households targeted: 13,102/17,443

# of households taking action: 44/74

Percent of households taking action: 0.03%/0.04%

Most significant lessons learned

The GVC’s Strategic Plan states that one of its key goals is to develop programs in small watersheds to implement actions identified in Baltimore County’s Small Watershed Action Plans (SWAPs) that fit within GVC’s criteria and develop community leadership to sustain these programs.” We have followed the guidance of the SWAPs with respect to choosing the types of projects we will implement and the project sites. Our core restoration programs are tree planting; stream adoption and cleanups; residential stormwater BMP’s including rain barrels, rain gardens and Bayscapes; and environmental education. The Clear Creeks Project promotes all of these restoration activities in the Middle River and Tidal Gunpowder (MR/TG) watersheds.

One of our 2015 goals was to expand our Clear Creeks Project outreach into the Bird River Watershed, adjacent to MR/TG Watersheds. We conducted outreach to 8,050 households in the Bird River watershed, one very similar to the Middle River and Tidal Gunpowder (MR/TG) watershed in many ways. We have already established partnerships with community associations in Bird River Watershed who are eager to get involved. With the addition of these households in Bird River our project will be reaching 17,433 households. We currently have strong partnerships with 12 community associations or organizations in the MR/TG watersheds.