Informed Consent to Participate in Research

Information to Consider Before Taking Part in this Research Study

Title: Groundwater Vulnerability in Coupled Human-Natural Systems. 

Study # 002870

Overview:  You are being asked to take part in a research study. The information in this document should help you to decide if you would like to participate. The sections in this Overview provide the basic information about the study. More detailed information is provided in the remainder of the document.

Study Staff:  This study is being led by Edgar J. Guerron Orejuela who is a PhD candidate at the University of South Florida in the School of Geosciences. This person is called the Principal Investigator. He is being guided in this research by Dr. Mark Rains, Dr. Kai Rains, and Dr. Shawn Landry. Other approved research staff may act on behalf of the Principal Investigator.

Study Details:  This study is being conducted in the Kenai Peninsula Lowlands. The purpose of the study is to document what residents of the Kenai Peninsula Lowlands value about living in this geographic area, assess their knowledge and understanding of groundwater systems in their region, and record their perceptions of groundwater vulnerability due to anthropogenic impacts in the Kenai Peninsula Lowlands. To obtain this information, research staff will conduct a 13-question survey targeted to all members of each of the following stakeholder groups:  Resources managers, environmental NGOs, landowners, and industry representatives of the Kenai Peninsula lowlands.

Participants You are being asked to take part in this study because you identify yourself as a member of at least one of the stakeholder groups mentioned above. We are interested in learning about the perceived value of groundwater for members of these stakeholder groups in the Kenai Peninsula Lowlands.

Voluntary Participation:  Your participation is voluntary. You do not have to participate and may stop your participation at any time. There will be no penalties or loss of benefits or opportunities if you do not participate or decide to stop once you start. Your decision to participate or not to participate will not affect your job status, employment record, employee evaluations, or advancement opportunities.

Benefits, Compensation, and Risk:  We do not know if you will receive any benefit from your participation. There is no cost to participate. You will not be compensated for your participation. This research is considered minimal risk.  Minimal risk means that study risks are the same as the risks you face in daily life. 

Confidentiality:  Even if we publish the findings from this study, we will keep your study information private and confidential. Anyone with the authority to look at your records must keep them confidential.

Why are you being asked to take part?

Given the low-regulatory landscape in the Kenai lowlands, it is imperative that members of the stakeholder groups collaborate to share and exchange their knowledge and priorities, as well as make common information accessible to all stakeholders to facilitate fruitful conversations and allow for better and more-informed local decision-making.   

Study Procedures

If you take part in this study, you will be asked to answer a survey that contains 13 questions. The survey will be conducted online using Qualtrics software and is expected to take the participants between 20-30 minutes to complete the survey. Data collected in this survey is anonymous.

Alternatives / Voluntary Participation / Withdrawal

You do not have to participate in this research study.

You should only take part in this study if you want to volunteer. You should not feel that there is any pressure to take part in the study. You are free to participate in this research or withdraw at any time.  There will be no penalty or loss of benefits you are entitled to receive if you stop taking part in this study. Decision to participate or not to participate will not affect your job status.  

Benefits and Risks

We are unsure if you will receive any benefits by taking part in this research study. This research is considered to be minimal risk.

You will receive no payment or other compensation for taking part in this study.

Privacy and Confidentiality

We will do our best to keep your records private and confidential. We cannot guarantee absolute confidentiality. Your personal information may be disclosed if required by law. Certain people may need to see your study records. The only people who will be allowed to see these records are:

·       The research team, including the Principal Investigator, study coordinator, and all other research staff.

·       Certain government and university people who need to know more about the study. For example, individuals who provide oversight on this study may need to look at your records. This is done to make sure that we are doing the study in the right way. They also need to make sure that we are protecting your rights and your safety. 

·       Any agency of the federal, state, or local government that regulates this research. This includes the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Office for Human Research Protection (OHRP).

·       The USF Institutional Review Board (IRB) and its related staff who have oversight responsibilities for this study, and staff in USF Research Integrity and Compliance

Your information or samples collected as part of the research, even if identifiers are removed, will NOT be used or distributed for future research studies.

It is possible, although unlikely, that unauthorized individuals could gain access to your responses because you are responding online. Confidentiality will be maintained to the degree permitted by the technology used. No guarantees can be made regarding the interception of data sent via the Internet.  However, your participation in this online survey involves risks similar to a person’s everyday use of the Internet. If you complete and submit an anonymous survey and later request your data be withdrawn, this may or may not be possible as the researcher may be unable to extract anonymous data from the database.

Contact Information

If you have any questions, concerns or complaints about this study, call Edgar J. Guerron Orejuela at 941-713-2606. If you have questions about your rights, complaints, or issues as a person taking part in this study, call the USF IRB at (813) 974-5638 or contact the IRB by email at


We may publish what we learn from this study. If we do, we will not let anyone know your name. We will not publish anything else that would let people know who you are. You can print a copy of this consent form for your records. 

I freely give my consent to take part in this study. I understand that by proceeding with this survey, I am agreeing to take part in research, and I am 18 years of age or older.


Edgar Guerron Orejuela (he/him)

Ph.D. Candidate

University of South Florida, School of Geosciences

Margaret A. Davidson Fellow