Title: Societal responses to water conservation policy instruments: a literature review and some comments on emerging theory. 
Resource Type: document --> technical publication --> proceedings / conference paper(s) 
Country: EU Projects 
Year of publication: 2002 
Availability: Jeffrey, P. & Gearey, M. (2002) Societal responses to water conservation policy instruments: a literature review and some comments on emerging theory. - position paper 
Author 1/Producer: Jeffrey, P. 
Other Authors/Producers: Gearey, M. 
Author / Producer Type: EC Project 
Report / download web link (=direct link): http://www.aquadapt.net/  
Format (e.g. PDF): PDF 
EUGRIS Keyword(s): Contaminated land-->Soil and groundwater processes-->Soil and groundwater processes overview
 
Short description: As part of the activities organised under the EPSRC ‘Watersave Network’, the School of Water Sciences at Cranfield University was asked to prepare a review paper on Public Perception Issues as they relate to Water Conservation and Recycling. As the following text demonstrates, we have adopted a broad interpretation of this brief, covering a range of issues relating to water use practices, responses to water policy instruments, and emerging paradigms which provide new opportunies for designing conservation strategies. Our overall objective has been to provide a comprehensive picture of the motivations for water use behaviour within different settings (Section 2) and indicate the relative performance of different conservation measures (Section 3). We also draw attention, where relevant, to the benefits and problems associated with specific conservation instruments. However, water conservation (including reuse & recycling) is a field in transition as we move from supply, through demand, to ‘structural’ approaches to resource management (see Section 4). The contents of this document suggest that water conservation cannot be dissociated from wider considerations concerning sociocultural context, regional development, technology choice, and legitimacy. Conservation is but one tool in the arsenal of water resource management; its effective deployment is dependent on its relationship not only with our communities, but also with other tools and strategies being deployed by government, regulators, and commercial enterprises. 1.1 Supply, demand, and social expectations One of the key state functions in any country is to make available reliable and safe water resources to its populace1. Water resources are the freshwater supplies that a society depends on for a range of essentials: For survival - drinking, raising crops and livestock, maintaining fauna and flora, disposing of effluent and dispersal of pollutants; for economic development – industry, agriculture and public health; for social stability – for improved life quality, recreational activity and so much more. Water resources come in multiple forms – rivers, springs, lakes, reservoirs, underground streams, aquifers and water in soil, all of which vary in distribution both spatially and temporally. All states need a minimum quota of accessible water to function; without water even the greatest of civilisations such as those of the Mesopotamians and the Akkadians have fallen (Schama, 1995; pages 257/258) and water stress has evidenced itself in water wars ( Bulloch, 1993) and political fragmentation.2 Water supply then has been the dominant paradigm governing water provision planning in developed countries in the modern era. Consequently water management systems have historically been shaped by the need to plan around meeting consumer demands, both in terms of water quantity and assured quality. As a result, water has been privileged as a social ‘right’ and attempts to restrain or qualify water use, either through fiscal, legislative or technological means, have played a role only in times of drought 1 The United Nations declared the 1980s as the ‘drinking water supply and sanitation decade’ aiming to bring access to safe drinking water to 80% of the world’s population. Although this target was not reached the drive to secure safe water resources is still a priority. 2 The Sudanese civil war has been attributed in part to development plans for the Nile. 4 events, with social acceptance of curtailments accomplished only through a perceived crisis (Lawson, 2002). The quality and distribution of water are now changing at a faster rate than before. The rate of change and nature of change is not uniform across space and time – with improvements in some areas, for instance pollution control, being mirrored by deterioration in overall quality, for instance a growth in nitrogen levels - either between developed countries or within national catchments. This is due to a number of factors: rising populations, demographic shifts leading to regional pockets of water stress,3 increasing water consumption per capita, climate change, improved pollution controls and a broader understanding of ecological survival limits. Juxtaposed against these changing conditions which contemporary consumers will experience within their lifetime are the existing expectations of consumers. The current supply orientated paradigm, prevalent in almost all developed countries, is intended to exceed consumer demand and to have a uniform quality. For theorists such as Allan (2001) the epoch of the hydraulic society represents the apex of modernism. The unsustainability of this paradigm has been demonstrated time and again.4 The privileging of hydraulics within society has then created a scenario of excess supply and excess quality for many routine uses, such as toilet flushing and garden watering. We therefore have a delivery system with few restraints to quantity or quality. For amelioration in water resource management these two very different tensions of resource depletion and cultural stasis will need to be reconciled. Our water management systems (in both a technological and institutional sense) are functions of history; and as such they are functions of our culture. At the level of the nation state, different countries have different institutional and technological arrangements for water provision and wastewater disposal, each of which has been influenced by dominant political and socio-economic processes. Hence, the current configuration of a water management system is complimentary with a set of social and institutional expectations, norms and capacities which determine the terms of reference for system operation and future development. Public acceptance of individual institutional actor practices and policies will, to a large extent, be determined by how well the policies conform to perceived norms and also by how well the actor is identified as part of the community and is thereby acting on the community’s behalf (Strang, 2001). In the UK, water availability and water quality will become increasingly stressed over the coming decades. In part this is due to natural phenomena - water is not evenly distributed across the country and neither is population; consequently when you have an increasing population in an area which is not water rich there is a danger of exceeding the supply headroom. To transfer water between water rich and water poor areas is an expensive strategy to develop and maintain – and means that the costs for living in a water poor area are passed on to the customer (Herbert & Kempson, 1995). Water availability is also stretched by the increasing quantity that modern lifestyles demand; a function of increases in washing machine and dishwasher use, garden watering and 3 Water stress is a scenario where water demand will in time supersede water supply. See Falkenmark & Wildstrand (1980). 4 One of the most striking physical representations of the hydraulic paradigm, dams, have become modern dinosaurs – cracked, crumbling and silted up. See McCully (1996) 5 lackadaisical use of water around the home. Whilst the change in industry make-up has shifted from water intensive heavy industry to lower consumption service industries this does not counter the rising population of household users. The water saving potential that irrigation heralds for agriculture could also reduce overall growth in demand, but would be asking an already demoralised sector to invest heavily and change established methods of working. Despite sectoral fluctuations forecasts suggest that demand over the coming 20 years could rise by up to 70% in some regions of the UK (EA, 2001). Water availability is not only threatened due to profligate use: our climate is also changing. Global warming not only increases temperatures which increase evapotranspiration we ar 
Link to Project(s): AQUADAPT Strategic tools to support adaptive, integrated water resource management under changing utilisation conditions at catchment level: A co-evolutionary approach
 
Submitted By: Dr Stefan Gödeke WhoDoesWhat?      Last update: 14/02/2006