This paper reports on a review of international water conservation efforts, but with a particular focus on the Australian context. The aim is to take stock of the current understanding of water conservation, in particular: what influences people’s decision to conserve water, what influences whether people persist with water conservation behavior and what contributes to awareness and familiarity of water conservation behaviors. We also explore how all these factors jointly can achieve water savings over time, and the efficacy of past efforts to save water. Subsequently, this is used to identify where leading practice for managing water conservation is heading, which we argue is the application of recent developments in behavioral science and advances in smart metering to personalize water conservation programs. To support individualized water conservation efforts, we need more longitudinal studies of water conservation behavior, a greater focus on behavioral science, as well as the development of modelling tools that embed insights and lessons of this research into decision support capability. This can help to develop the capacity to better implement water conservation programs that respond to short-term water scarcity crises, such as droughts, while also providing persistent reductions in per-capita water demand that can help meet strategic water planning needs, such as deferring or downsizing capital investment in supply infrastructure to accommodate demands associated with population growth.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited