Using Geographic Information Systems to Explore the Determinants of Household Water Consumption and Response to the Queensland Government Demand-Side Policy Measures imposed during the drought of 2006-2008
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Something hitherto unheard of happened in South East Queensland, Australia between 2005 and 2008. During a recent drought, a suite of demand-side measures was remarkably successful in reducing household water consumption. Over this relatively short period, residential water use plummeted from approximately 300 Litres Capita Day (LCD) to a low of 122 LCD. Average household water use dropped over 50%, unprecedented for a demand-side program, most of which only result in water use reductions of 10% or less. There is great interest in understanding how and why the policy measures were so effective so rapidly and on such a scale. Understanding how this behavioural change happened so rapidly and on such a large scale, is potentially of great significance for the future management of household water demand. This paper reports on research using geodemographic approaches to examine key dimensions of household water use during the SEQ drought. The research first used Geographic Information Systems, Principal Components Analysis, and other statistical methods to explore the spatial, socio-demographic and structural determinants of household water use in the period. The most significant variables found to predict high water use at the Census Collection District scale were swimming pools, land value, and income. This information informed surveys of householder attitudes and behavioural change in response to policy measures. Householders largely supported the measures and showed a distinct preference for those, such as water tanks, that allowed them control over how water was used. As with similar studies, intention to practise conservation behaviour was not significant for actual behaviour. In conclusion, the results of this research could enable finer targeting of demand-side policy, and help maintain lower levels of water use into the future.
State of Australian Cities Conference 2011 Proceedings
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Environmental Science and Management not elsewhere classified