Evaluating a novel tiered scarcity adjusted water budget and pricing structure using a holistic systems modelling approach

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Sahin, Oz
Bertone, Edoardo
Beal, Cara
Stewart, Rodney A
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Population growth, coupled with declining water availability and changes in climatic conditions underline the need for sustainable and responsive water management instruments. Supply augmentation and demand management are the two main strategies used by water utilities. Water demand management has long been acknowledged as a least-cost strategy to maintain water security. This can be achieved in a variety of ways, including: i) educating consumers to limit their water use; ii) imposing restrictions/penalties; iii) using smart and/or efficient technologies; and iv) pricing mechanisms. Changing water consumption behaviours through pricing or restrictions is challenging as it introduces more social and political issues into the already complex water resources management process. This paper employs a participatory systems modelling approach for: (1) evaluating various forms of a proposed tiered scarcity adjusted water budget and pricing structure, and (2) comparing scenario outcomes against the traditional restriction policy regime. System dynamics modelling was applied since it can explicitly account for the feedbacks, interdependencies, and non-linear relations that inherently characterise the water tariff (price)-demand-revenue system. A combination of empirical water use data, billing data and customer feedback on future projected water bills facilitated the assessment of the suitability and likelihood of the adoption of scarcity-driven tariff options for a medium-sized city within Queensland, Australia. Results showed that the tiered scarcity adjusted water budget and pricing structure presented was preferable to restrictions since it could maintain water security more equitably with the lowest overall long-run marginal cost.

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Journal of Environmental Management

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© 2018 Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/) which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, providing that the work is properly cited.

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Environmental management not elsewhere classified

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