RP 3035 Final Report: Modelling Uptake of Water Conservation and Efficiency Measures in Sydney

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Moglia, Magnus; Cook, Stephen; Tapsuwan, Sorada




This report provides a summary of many of the activities in the LCL CRC project “RP3035 Modelling the uptake of water conservation and efficiency measures in Sydney” which is a collaboration between the CSIRO, the Low Carbon Living CRC and Sydney Water. The extended Millennium drought during the 2000s saw Australian cities have to move rapidly to implement water conservation measures and adopt alternative rainfall-independent water sources such as desalination, in order to ensure water supply security. The measures implemented during the drought have increased the energy and carbon intensity of water supply. There is the need to understand where future water conservation programs might be targeted during future droughts that can be most effective in reducing demand while minimising carbon footprint and economic costs. To address this need the project developed a prototype decision support system simulating market diffusion to inform the following questions for water conservation/efficiency (and associated energy and carbon impacts) in the Sydney Water network: • What factors influence consumer behaviour in changing patterns of water usage under a range of scenarios, including various levels of water restrictions, during drought conditions and outside of drought conditions? • What types of interventions would be sufficient to motivate early adopters to implement new technology solutions? How long should these incentives remain to encourage wider market uptake? • How can diffusion be accelerated via non-financial interventions – e.g. education, restrictions? • The influence of drought conditions and awareness of consumers on behaviour? • What population groups (by income, by group values etc.) will make changes that lead to the desired water savings? • How can interventions to reduce water usage lead to energy and carbon reductions? The following activities were undertaken: Literature review – identification of the factors that influence the adoption of water conservation actions. The review highlighted the importance of considering water conservation actions through the ‘consumer decision journey’ which considers how to build awareness and familiarity, encourage adoption, and ensure the persistence of the behaviour. Household survey – a survey of 547 households was undertaken to understand the relationship between residents and their complex responses to a set of interventions implemented by Sydney Water to promote the uptake of water conservation behaviours and technologies. Statistical adoption modelling - Based on the survey data, several Multinomial regression models were fitted to the data to describe the likelihood of ‘stated intention’ to adopt various versions of Sydney Water’s WaterFix® program. Willingness to pay analysis - This analysis ascertained how much Sydney Water Customers were willing to pay for various attributes of a rainwater tank or a smart meter. Findings from these studies shed light on the perceived benefits residents place on rainwater tanks or smart meters as measures to help conserve water and become more resilient to the drought in the future. Agent-based Model – The ABM was developed as a decision support tool that can explore the uptake of water conservation actions under different policy scenarios and assumptions. The ABM simulates, based on the preceding activities, the complex social dynamics of customer behaviour drivers when making a decision on the potential adoption of water conservation actions. The ABM model was validated against historical data on the adoption of water conservation programs in Sydney Water’s service area. This provided Sydney Water with greater confidence in the model outputs and has sparked interest in other water utilities looking to implement a similar approach in designing their water conservation programs. Future research will attempt to develop a generic model for helping to understand the adoption of resource efficient behaviour in a range of contexts.

Low Carbon Living CRC

Sydney, NSW

Agent-Based Modelling; Water conservation; Consumat

Natural Resource Management; Decision Making; Simulation and Modelling

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Technical Report (Author)


Moglia, Magnus; Cook, Stephen; Tapsuwan, Sorada. RP 3035 Final Report: Modelling Uptake of Water Conservation and Efficiency Measures in Sydney. Sydney, NSW: Low Carbon Living CRC; 2019. http://hdl.handle.net/102.100.100/86045?index=1

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