Publication Details

Gilbertson, M., Hurlimann, A. & Dolnicar, S. (2011). Does water context influence behaviour and attitudes to water conservation?. Australasian Journal of Environmental Management, 18 (1), 47-60.


Many rural and urban areas around the world are facing challenges to the supply of water. A key method of addressing water shortage is water conservation. The success of conservation measures depends on public support and behaviour change. While it is known that the public is generally supportive of water conservation measures, little is known about the dependence of water conservation attitudes and behaviour on geographical location and the water situation at specific locations. The present study investigates whether individual attitudes to water conservation, and reported participation in water conservation behaviours, differ between two Australian locations that vary significantly in their water situation. The first location, Darwin, is an urban location with a water surplus, whereas the second location, the Mallee in north-western Victoria, is a rural environment that has experienced an extended period of drought. Results indicate that there are significant differences in attitude and participation between the two areas. Significantly more people from the water-scarce location are supportive of most water conservation behaviours, and they are significantly more likely to state that they participate in water conservation behaviours. Implications for water policy are discussed.



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