Inderscience Publishers

Big Water needs 'little' people: improving water resource management by including households

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Amid claims that the global water crisis is a management crisis, rather than a crisis of resource scarcity, ADB (2010) strongly indicates that contemporary water management institutions are failing to sustainably manage water resources. The burgeoning domestic sector offers a rich environment to examine some of the failings of institutional water resource management, with increasing standardisation of water supply and treatment technologies leading, in many cases, to a marked increase in per person domestic water demand (Davidson, 2008). This paper uses the water policy of the Australian Capital Territory Government to demonstrate how the underlying water concepts of institutional domestic water management create an environment that disregards householder water management expertise. Data from three Water Diaries conducted in the ACT in 2007, 2008, 2009 and a follow–up survey in 2010 provides evidence of the extent of household water management expertise. Expertise recorded in the diaries includes a vast array of water conservation and reuse practices and the willingness to adapt water management practices to changed circumstances. Ignoring the depth of householder water management expertise is to institutional water management's detriment, and may be contributing to the water management crisis.

Keywords: big water, domestic water management, households, household water management, water restrictions, water resource management, Australia

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