An experimental test of voluntary strategies to promote urban water demand management
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In light of the current and future threats to global water security the current research focuses on trialing interventions to promote urban water conservation. We report an experimental study designed to test the long-term impact of three different interventions on household water consumption in South East Queensland. Participants from 221 households were recruited and completed an initial survey, and their houses were fitted with smart water meters which measured total water usage at 5 s intervals. Households were allocated into one of four conditions: a control group and three interventions groups (water saving information alone, information plus a descriptive norm manipulation, and information plus tailored end-user feedback). The study is the first to use smart water metering technology as a tool for behaviour change as well as a way to test the effectiveness of demand management interventions. Growth curve modelling revealed that compared to the control, the three intervention groups all showed reduced levels of household consumption (an average reduction of 11.3 L per person per day) over the course of the interventions, and for some months afterwards. All interventions led to significant water savings, but long-term household usage data showed that in all cases, the reduction in water use resulting from the interventions eventually dissipated, with water consumption returning to preintervention levels after approximately 12 months. Implications for water demand management programs are discussed.
Journal of Environmental Management
Water Resources Engineering
Psychology and Cognitive Sciences not elsewhere classified