Responding to the Millennium drought: comparing domestic water cultures in three Australian cities

Lindsay, Jo, Dean, Angela J. and Supski, Sian (2016) Responding to the Millennium drought: comparing domestic water cultures in three Australian cities. Regional Environmental Change, 17 2: 1-13. doi:10.1007/s10113-016-1048-6

Author Lindsay, Jo
Dean, Angela J.
Supski, Sian
Title Responding to the Millennium drought: comparing domestic water cultures in three Australian cities
Journal name Regional Environmental Change   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1436-378X
Publication date 2016-01-01
Year available 2016
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1007/s10113-016-1048-6
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 17
Issue 2
Start page 1
End page 13
Total pages 13
Place of publication Heidelberg, Germany
Publisher Springer
Language eng
Subject 2306 Global and Planetary Change
Abstract Adapting to water scarcity is a critical issue for many cities around the world as they respond to the influences of population growth, urbanisation and climate change. There is increasing recognition that geographic context has an impact on experiences of and approaches to domestic water use, but research comparing urban environments is scarce. This paper describes different domestic water cultures after the Millennium drought in three Australian cities—Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane. All three cities have experienced drought, or severe water shortages, over the past 15 years, and each city has responded differently. The experience of water scarcity and water restrictions imposed by governments impacted on people’s everyday lives in varied and profound ways. Drawing on quantitative data from a national survey (n = 5194) and qualitative data from focus groups, we found that a sense of water crisis led to household water conservation in Brisbane and Melbourne. In contrast, access to alternative water sources in Perth through desalination plants and household bores de-emphasised personal responses to household water conservation. The implications are that urban specific policies and interventions are needed to provide durable change in domestic water cultures. We argue that greater water sensitivity and responsiveness to water availability should be promoted in different urban centres, and that water supply solutions should be accompanied by initiatives that promote adoption of sustainable water practices and future resilience.
Keyword Millennium drought
Domestic water use
Mixed methods
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Grant ID 2013001906
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
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