Volume 36, Issue 6

November 2020 Special Issue on Managing Urban Water Demand: Global Approaches


Foreword »

Peter Joo Hee Ng

Editorial »

Water management in post-2020 world

Cecilia Tortajada and Asit K. Biswas

Research Article

Managing water demand in Singapore through a systems perspective

Richard Hoo

Policy and Development, PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency

Contact: Richard Hoo | Email: Richard_hoo@pub.gov.sg


Against a backdrop of economic and population growth, unpredictable climate patterns and rising costs, it is imperative for Singapore to complement supply-side solutions with demand-management strategies on a systemic level to ensure an efficient, adequate and sustainable supply of water for all.

Pages: 879-887


Research Article

Water demand reduction to help meet SDG 6: learning from major Australian cities

James Horne

James Horne and Associates, Canberra, Australia

Contact: James Horne | Email: jameshorne@iinet.net.au


Sustainable Development Goal 6 seeks to address the increasing and unmet demand for water in many urban areas already struggling with inadequate water quality and supply. With climate change posing new threats, and both population growth and rural urban migration exacerbating existing issues, measures to reduce water demand sit alongside increasing water supply to address the problem. This article outlines Australia’s experience in reducing water demand in urban areas, illustrating a range of measures that could contribute to meeting this goal. Key measures have a low fiscal cost, but require attention to governance.

Pages: 888-908


Research Article

The decline of water consumption in Spanish cities: structural and contingent factors

David Sauri

Department of Geography, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain

Contact: David Sauri | Email: David.sauri@uab.cat


As cities will concentrate most of the world’s population and economic activities, so urban water demand will account for a large proportion of global water demand in the future. In contrast, recent empirical evidence indicates that water consumption in many cities of the developed world is declining. In this article, this decline in consumption is studied for the major Spanish cities, and some of the drivers of this decline (economic, technological and behavioural) are explored. Contingent events such as droughts and economic crises may intensify the decline in consumption, as shown for the case of Barcelona.

Pages: 909-925


Research Article

Information-based interventions for household water efficiency in England and Wales: evidence, barriers and learning opportunities

Liang Lu

Centre for Fashion Business & Innovation Research and Fashion Business School, London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London, UK; Centre for Competition Policy, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK

Contact: Liang Lu | Email: liang.lu@fashion.arts.ac.uk


Following the call of the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in its recent Water Efficiency and Behaviour Change Rapid Evidence Assessment 2018, this article seeks to understand the key barriers to effective information-based interventions to encourage household water efficiency in England and Wales and their implications. We review the evidence on information provision to conserve water in England and Wales. We then set out the current key barriers, highlight what might have contributed to the barriers and, based on learnings from the literature, clarify some underlying confusion and suggest ways to improve.

Pages: 926-939


Research Article

Exploring the psychosocial and behavioural determinants of household water conservation and intention

Sally V. Russella and Christof Knoerib

aSustainability Research Institute, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, UK; bGroup for Sustainability and Technology, Department of Management, Technology and Economics, ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Contact: Sally V. Russell | Email: s.russell@leeds.ac.uk


Securing urban freshwater supplies is a major challenge for policy makers globally. This study investigated the determinants of household water conservation to identify the relative contribution of psychosocial and behavioural determinants. Using a survey of 1196 households across the UK, we found that attitudes, norms and habits play an important role in determining intention to conserve water, and that habits were the single most important predictor of water conservation intentions and self-reported water bills. Changing ingrained water conservation habits is therefore an important component of managing urban water demand.

Pages: 940-955

https://doi.org/10.1080/07900627.2019.1638230 (Open Access)

Research Article

Psychological barriers to urban recycled water acceptance: a review of relevant principles in decision psychology

Carol Nemeroffa,b, Paul Rozinc, Brent Haddadd and Paul Slovice,f

aDepartment of Psychology, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA; bSocial and Behavioral Sciences, University of Southern Maine, Portland, ME, USA; cDepartment of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA; dDepartment of Environmental Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA, USA; eDecision Research, Eugene, OR, USA; fDepartment of Psychology, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, USA

Contact: Carol Nemeroff | Email: cnemeroff@maine.edu


This paper reviews principles from decision psychology relevant to understanding and increasing acceptance of urban recycled water, and supplements existing literature by suggesting an additional factor: adaptation insensitivity. We integrate into our discussion previously unpublished results from a study conducted in 2007, which surveyed 2680 respondents in five American cities, identifying basic psychological features impacting resistance to recycled water. We focus on identifying targets for intervention, including the failure of respondents to realize that, with exposure, they would adapt to recycled water (adaptation insensitivity).

Pages: 956–971


Research Article

Drivers of productivity change in water companies: an empirical approach for England and Wales

María Molinos-Senantea,b and Alexandros Maziotisc,d

aDepartamento de Ingeniería Hidráulica y Ambiental, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago; bDepartment of Engineering, Centro de Desarrollo Urbano Sustentable CONICYT/FONDAP/15110020, Santiago, Chile; cDepartment of Sustainable Development and Climate Change, Foundazione Eni Enrico Mattei, Venice, Italy; dDepartment of Business, New York College, Athens, Greece

Contact: María Molinos-Senante | Email: mmolinos@uc.cl


In this study, a normalized quadratic cost function was employed to estimate total factor productivity for the water sector in England and Wales over the period 1993–2016. Productivity was then decomposed into technical change and scale effect. Technical change is further broken down into pure technical change, non-neutral technical change, and effects due to scale-augmenting technical change. The water industry increased its productivity annually by 6.1%, with 1.5% corresponding to technical change and 4.5% attributed to the
scale effect. Lastly, we discuss some policy implications by linking the productivity results with the regulatory cycle.

Pages: 972-991


Research Article

Technological enablers and confidence building in end-users for effective non-domestic water demand management

Harry Seah and Nina Lee

PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency, Singapore

Contact: Harry Seah | Email: harry_seah@pub.gov.sg


By 2060, 70% of Singapore’s total water demand will be used for non-domestic purposes. Effective management of this demand will allow the national water agency, PUB, to achieve significant leverage and take strides in water sustainability as land use nears capacity limits in Singapore. Uptake of water conservation projects was sluggish in the initial years due to the high upfront capital and manpower resources required for implementation, and perceived incremental benefit to business margins. Through policy reform, technological innovation and a rigorous industrial engagement strategy, PUB has since completed 45 water conservation projects and is set to achieve 14.3 million gallons per day in non-domestic water savings by the end of 2020.

Pages: 992-1013


Research Article

Drivers and challenges to water tariff reform in Saudi Arabia

Stephen J. McIlwainea and Omar K. M. Oudab

aSchool of the Natural and Built Environment, Queen’s University Belfast, UK; bNational Centre for Water Research and Studies, Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Contact: Stephen J. McIlwaine | Email: s.mcilwaine@qub.ac.uk


In 2015, increases in the domestic water tariff in Saudi Arabia were met with significant opposition. Although the increases were needed to address the technical and financial sustainability of the service in the context of extreme scarcity and high costs, insufficient effort was made to explain the changes and prepare the public. This paper examines the trade-offs surrounding the design of a domestic water tariff, based on economic theory and global experience, and sets out the competing factors Saudi Arabia should consider when designing a new tariff structure to provide long-term public acceptability while ensuring the service remains sustainable.

Pages: 1014-1030


Research Article

Importance of internal factors for community-managed water and wastewater systems in Cochabamba, Bolivia

Ida Helgegrena, Jennifer McConvilleb, Graciela Landaetac and Sebastien Raucha

aDepartment of Architecture and Civil Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden; bDepartment of Energy and Technology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala; cProcasha Foundation, Cochabamba, Bolivia

Contact: Ida Helgegren | Email: ida.helgegren@chalmers.se


Community management is often seen as part of the solution to increase access to drinking water and wastewater management where municipal services are lacking. This article intends to increase the knowledge regarding self-organized community managed water and wastewater systems in urban and peri-urban areas. A theory-building case-study approach, including three different neighbourhoods in Bolivia and their respective community based organizations, was selected. Four prerequisites – leadership, agreed vision, collective action and management – and associated enabling factors connected to three distinct planning and management phases were found to be of major importance for community-managed water and wastewater systems.

Pages: 1031-1053

https://doi.org/10.1080/07900627.2019.1616536 (Open Access)


Some systems perspectives on demand management during Cape Town’s 2015–2018 water crisis

Mike Muller

Wits School of Governance, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Contact: Mike Muller | Email: mike.muller@wits.ac.za


Cape Town recently suffered severe water shortages triggered by a multi-year drought. These shortages were aggravated by reliance on demand management to balance supply and demand in the rapidly growing city. This article considers the interaction between the supply-side planning system and the less systematic approach used to plan and manage what is characterized as the demand-side system. Political priorities and preferences as well as perceptions of and attitudes towards risk influenced demand forecasts and development decisions. The experience illustrates the importance of a more systematic approach to demand forecasting to reduce the risk of supply failures.

Pages: 1054-1072



How OCWD made potable reuse palatable and avoided public opposition to its project

Michael R. Markus and Eleanor Torres

Orange County Water District, Fountain Valley, USA

Contact: Michael R. Markus | Email: mmarkus@ocwd.com


The paper provides a description of the efforts taken by the Orange County Water District (the District; OCWD) to insulate itself from public opposition to its potable reuse project, the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS). We emphasize how important it is to first understand the challenges faced by concurrent projects in Southern California, and the development and execution of OCWD’s outreach programme, which was ongoing and fluid to better anticipate and react to emerging issues. Finally, we demonstrate the importance of continued outreach efforts, outlining the various steps the District has taken to educate people about reuse benefits.

Pages: 1073-1092



Nestlé caring for water

Carlo C. Galli and Christian Vousvouras

Nestlé, Vevey, Switzerland

Contact: Carlo C. Galli | Email: Carlo.Galli@nestle.com


Water has been a ‘natural’ management priority for Nestlé since its beginnings, more than 150 years ago. Farmers need water to grow food, factories need water to operate, and consumers need water to prepare their dishes. Water touches every part of Nestlé’s value chain. This article describes how Nestlé’s management has made water a priority for the company over time. Nestlé has become a leading company in industrial water management in its own manufacturing facilities. However, over time, Nestlé realized that the impact of a water strategy built solely on internal excellence is limited, both from an operational and from a reputational perspective. Therefore, Nestlé has come up with a new strategy, the Caring for Water initiative, which builds on the principles of water stewardship, focusing on collective action at the level of the watershed.

Pages: 1093-1104