M. Armstrong, L. Kramer, L.N. de Senerpont Domis, D. van Wijk, A.S. Gsell, W.M. Mooij, S. Teurlincx
Ongoing anthropogenic and climatic pressures on inland waters have made water quality management a challenge of the 21st century. A holistic catchment-scale approach to water management which includes stakeholder participation will be a key in maintaining lake health. A first step toward community engagement is to bolster environmental literacy on lake management, ecology, and eutrophication concepts of stakeholders now and in future generations. However, communicating with nonwater professionals about effects of pollution on water quality and catchment-scale interactions across space and time can be difficult. Here, we present “Flipping Lakes,” a games-based method for lake professionals to communicate and educate about catchment-level water quality management to diverse audiences. In Flipping Lakes, the players take on the role of water managers in a catchment and are tasked to prevent a lake from “flipping” from a clear to a turbid state. During the game, the catchment slowly becomes polluted by a range of sources of which the effects are exacerbated by societal or climatic scenarios. Players need to implement measures while taking into consideration the intrinsic properties of the catchment in order to keep lakes clean. The game was tested with a diverse range of user groups and was well-received. With its entertaining and accessible content, Flipping Lakes can lower communication barriers and increase understanding of difficult water quality concepts. The game is highly customizable, making it applicable to a variety of settings to support education and engagement of stakeholders and the broader community in order to address local water challenges around the globe.