Stormwater Management in Australia: Community Perceptions, Attitudes and Knowledge

This report was produced for the Urban Water Research Association of Australia, a now discontinued research program.

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Stormwater Management in Australia: Community Perceptions, Attitudes and Knowledge

Report no. UWRAA 95

August 1995


As the first stage of a study which aims to take a national approach to community catchment management of stormwater, a door to door survey with a total sample of 1,193 was conducted in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. The questionnaire was developed to examine the following aspects of stormwater and its management.

A. Environmental Values for Waterways

B. Knowledge and Awareness of Stormwater Issues

C. Relative Importance of Stormwater Management (compared with otherpublic services)

D. Responsibility for Stormwater Management

E. Willingness to Pay (for stormwater pollution abatement)

F. Potential Community Action

G. Attitudes

H. Demographics

Although there were many statistically significant differences between cities in the survey results, these tended to be related to local circumstances rather than differences in attitude or philosophy. These differences are detailed in the report and individual summary analyses are provided for each city.

Ofparticular note were the many similarities in city findings which can providethe basis for developing a national approach to stormwater management.

Thecommunity’s environmental values are consistent across cities, with clearcriteria for setting water quality standards. It is apparent that the waterquality of city rivers does not meet the community’s environmental values, andvery few exploitive uses are supported.

Althoughknowledge and awareness of the stormwater issue is variable across cities,there is a clear need for further education in all cities.

The community perceives a definite distinction between the management of quantity and quality of stormwater and place greater emphasis on the importance of management of quality. Although there is an acknowledgement of the roles of the community and polluters in both the management and payment for quality improvement, there is also the indication of a large public good component in this aspect of stormwater management.

Respondents reported that they were already doing many actions which assist with quality management of stormwater. Attitudinal items were the major predictors of potential community action, with knowledge and benefits apparently having very little direct influence.

The report identifies a number of areas for future investigation, particularly in Stage 2 of the study, which will look at the feasibility of urban catchment management of stormwater.

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