Hierarchy of factors affecting the social perception of dam reservoirs

This study presents an assessment of factors that influence how people who live in the vicinity of dams view such projects. The usefulness of the principal component analysis (PCA) method for identifying variables that determine individuals’ opinion about large dam projects was reviewed. The study focuses on people affected by the construction of the Mucharski Reservoir in the Polish Carpathians. The construction took over 30 years and took place at a time when Poland transitioned from a planned economy to a free market one.

We used in-depth interviews (N = 96) and a set of 18 factors classified as personal, emotional and economic. Our results indicate that the variables that significantly affect social perception of dam projects by the local population include their opinion regarding the viability of the project, sense of security, personal benefits, the extent to which they have accepted the structure, respecting the local community’s interests when drafting the development plans and new opportunities. The results allow for the future optimization of research tools used to comprehensively examine social perception of hydraulic structures. Using PCA allowed us to take semi-structured data from interviews and extract meaningful relationships between the various inputs, show correlations between seemingly unrelated data, as well as explain the variances within the studied population. It also shows that PCA can be a useful tool for analyzing data that is not formally structured.

Published in:

Piróg D., Fidelus-Orzechowska J., Wiejaczka Ł., Łajczak A. (2019). Hierarchy of factors affecting the social perception of dam reservoirs. Environmental Impact Assessment Review. Elsevier. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eiar.2019.106301