Barriers and Drivers to Australian Water Utilities’ Adaptation to Climate Change

Thumbnail Image
File version

Version of Record (VoR)

Torabi, Elnaz
Dedekorkut-Howes, Aysin
Howes, Michael
Byrne, Jason
Griffith University Author(s)
Primary Supervisor
Other Supervisors
File type(s)

Perth, Australia


The water sector is increasingly facing unprecedented challenges and disruptive change, as are many other sectors of the economy. Market shifts, privatisation, increasing competition, technological innovation, and changing consumer behaviour pose significant challenges for water utilities. Such factors have been disruptive to many other sectors, including energy and telecommunications, which have often been caught unprepared. The next phase of disruptions will impact the water sector, and the partial privatisation of water assets is just the beginning of this process. Climate change impacts will exacerbate all these challenges. Action needs to be taken now if threats are to be turned into opportunities. This paper examines the barriers and enablers of climate adaptation in the water sector. It uses data collected through informal meetings (short conversations), semi-structured in-depth interviews and a workshop on climate change adaptation with selected representatives from water/wastewater utilities across Australia. The results indicate that utilities face both internal and external barriers to adaptation. Barriers faced by the water sector are similar to those in other sectors and include community values and perceptions, high costs of adaptation and community’s reluctance to pay, political instability and sensitivity of climate change across all Australian states, and lack of coordination and collaboration between organisations.

Journal Title
Conference Title

State of Australian Cities Conference 2019 (SOAC 2019)

Book Title
Thesis Type
Degree Program
Publisher link
Patent number
Grant identifier(s)
Rights Statement
Rights Statement

© The Author(s) 2019. The attached file is reproduced here in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. For information about this conference please refer to the conference’s website or contact the author(s).

Item Access Status
Access the data
Related item(s)

Natural resource management

Land use and environmental planning

Persistent link to this record

Torabi, E; Dedekorkut, A; Howes, M; Byrne, J, Barriers and Drivers to Australian Water Utilities’ Adaptation to Climate Change, 2019