Stormwater Management in Australia: The Feasibility of Neighbourhood Action and Community Information
This report was produced for the Urban Water Research Association of Australia, a now discontinued research program.
Report no. UWRAA 142
This report covers the second stage of a study which aimed to take a national approach to community catchment management of stormwater. Conducted in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, it built on the findings of a previous survey in the four cities. Study and Control catchments were selected in the cities to establish the feasibility of community action and provision of information in improving stormwater management.
Within the Study catchments, three experimental conditions were established: one where activities were concentrated and residents received regular information; another where residents received information only; and another where residents were subject only to spill-over effects from the other areas. The experimental design aimed to increase awareness, visibility and commitment, three areas shown in the recycling literature to assist in encouraging pro-environmental behaviour. The experiment was actively conducted over a nine month Intervention phase, and then a similar period of Monitoring was undertaken.
Residents in the Study catchments were offered a number of levels of active involvement aimed at assisting with stormwater management. These levels ranged from joining a group through to involvement at only their house and verge. The history of the resultant groups was recorded, along with other community activity. Those who indicated an original intention to be involved, but did not do so in practice, or ceased involvement at some stage, were later interviewed to establish why their intentions were not fulfilled.
Community groups, schools, service clubs and local businesses were also invited to participate in the stormwater management activities. Relevant government agencies agreed to be involved with the community catchment groups.
Information, personally addressed to residents, was both attitudinal and educational. The targeted attitudes were those shown in the Stage 1 survey to predict reported pro-environmental behaviour or potential behaviour.
Three telephone surveys were conducted during the Intervention phase of the study and measured attitudes, awareness, knowledge, and reported behaviour. A final door to door survey was conducted at the completion of the Monitoring phase. This survey, apart from the above repeated measures, made preliminary attempts at“ neighbourhood mapping”, and also investigated residents’ willingness-to-pay for catchment specific projects to improve stormwater quality. Attempts were also made to measure any physical/behavioural changes in the catchments.
This reports the outcomes of the community intervention and action; the Intervention surveys; the physical audits of the catchments; and finally of the post-Monitoring survey. Cross-city comparisons are made, and conclusions and recommendations are drawn that are generalisable to practice at a national level.
Finally, specific requirements for future investigation are identified.