Inderscience Publishers

Strengthening social metrics within the triple bottom line of sustainable water resources

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Today's water resources plans must satisfy the goals of the triple bottom line (TBL): social, environmental and economic viability. Historically, economic goals have dominated water planning decisions and thus are well understood and defined. Since the passage of environmental legislation in the 70s, environmental goals have become increasingly important. The third pillar of sustainability – social equity, has been mostly overlooked in the water resources planning process to date. This research involved the definition of a candidate set of social sustainability indicators for use in water supply planning decision–making. The measures were categorised according to the psychological framework of Maslow's hierarchy of needs (physiological, safety, belonging, esteem, and morality). A focus group made up of water industry experts was queried about both the usability and the data availability for each of the candidate measures. Results indicated that the social sustainability metrics of greatest importance are related to affordability, reliability, and resilience.

Keywords: social sustainability, water supply planning, triple bottom line, TBL, performance measures, sustainable water resources, sustainable development, water resource management, Maslow, hierarchy of needs

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