Beyond mains water: a survey of households that are self-sufficient for water in regional Australia

Publication Name

Australasian Journal of Environmental Management


There is little recognition in policy of existing adaptive capacities and experiments with alternate water systems in the Global North. Households that are self-sufficient for water present a space in which alternative relationships between water, comfort and convenience manifest. This article presents insights from a survey completed by 209 households that are self-sufficient for water in the Eurobodalla Shire, in regional New South Wales, Australia. The survey sought to understand practices, experiences, and perceptions of people who take responsibility for managing the capture, storage, consumption, and disposal of water at home. We found that most respondents rely on household-collected rainwater for all domestic purposes. Most drink rainwater, and many drink rainwater untreated. Respondents identified challenges of self-sufficiency, including running out of water, and infrastructure maintenance and failure. Notwithstanding these challenges, most respondents indicated that they enjoy living in a water self-sufficient home and would do so again in future. Most respondents moved to their non-mains water home for reasons other than being in control of water; adapting to water self-sufficiency was therefore a necessity rather than a choice. The results of this survey are significant as the water sector looks to diversify sources of domestic water to better adapt to uncertain futures.

Open Access Status

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