Analysing the dynamics of transitions in residential water consumption in the Netherlands

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Water infrastructure is inherently a socio-technical system. Rapidly changing urban trends and long-term uncertainties make water infrastructure management complex. This paper analyses the dynamics of residential water consumption in the Netherlands since 1900. During this period, different drivers for change had an influence on residential water use. Results show that different (f)actors and trends had a role in the change of routines, perceptions, expectations, technologies and norms. Drivers of change in residential water consumption were for instance technological developments, the changing perception of comfort and external pressures, such as the oil crisis in the 1970s, and energy labelling of appliances and buildings. These changes led to transitions in the urban system by adjustments in regulative, normative, and cognitive aspects of regimes. In this paper, these transitions are analysed. For instance, full adoption of showers took 60 years, and the maximum annual adoption rate was 6.4% for washing machines. Understanding the links between physical and technological features and society can provide key information about how urban water transitions occur. This knowledge must be used in water infrastructure planning as it impacts demand and typical demand patterns.

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