Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Geography and Sustainable Communities


This thesis offers a new understanding of everyday life for households living off-grid from municipal water and sewerage systems. The thesis argues for household sustainability policy informed by existing adaptive capacities and experiments with alternatives to mains water infrastructure and governance systems in the Minority World. It does so through a research design that combined questionnaire surveys with semi-structured interviews and ‘home-insight tours’ conducted with participants who live off-grid for water in the Eurobodalla Shire, a non-metropolitan local government area situated on the south coast of New South Wales, Australia. Building on relational ontologies of everyday life, this thesis brings into conversation concepts from social practice theory and embodied feminist scholarship, to conceptualise the more-than-human, discursive, embodied and affective dimensions that shape everyday water practices. Across the empirical chapters attention turns specifically to developing understanding of human-water relations in the non-mains water home through three inter-related everyday water practices: provision, (re)use and disposal. Attention is drawn to the embodied qualities of skills and competencies in managing the material infrastructures of domestic water supply, and the discourses, sensuous bodies and emotions invested in practices of water capture, (re)use and disposal—elements that are often ignored in water policy debates. The thesis illustrates the importance of geographical relational thinking to conceive of domestic water self-sufficiency. Practices of provisioning, (re)using and disposing of water are always contingent upon the situated socio-material arrangements through which people make sense of themselves and home.

FoR codes (2008)

1604 HUMAN GEOGRAPHY, 1299 OTHER BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN, 160403 Social and Cultural Geography, 160404 Urban and Regional Studies (excl. Planning)



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.