As customer needs and community expectations evolve the water industry needs to match the pace of change in order to keep up. The future customer wants to be at the centre of the design process for a seamless experience and ability to engage meaningfully on decisions that impact them as a community.

Understanding stakeholders and communities

Community response to climate-resilient water sources varies significantly around the world. Research commissioned by the Australian Water Recycling Centre of Excellence revealed that long-term planning, extensive stakeholder engagement, and a legislative program is essential.

Research highlights that successful stakeholder engagement programs:

  • integrate communication engagement early into planning processes with key stakeholders
  • implement a two-way dialogue over time
  • address community attitudes not just technical aspects
  • occur over time in a water security context which avoids emergency decision making.

There were three components to this research and some key research outcomes.

Matters that influence community acceptance

Research by Victoria University found factors influencing community acceptance of potable water reuse include the quality and consistency of the community outreach, levels of water scarcity and perceived levels of environmental benefit. Their five reports address a key influence.

Perceptions and barriers
Community views on risk and safety
Customer attitudes by segment
Impact of water scarcity on acceptance of potable reuse
Engaging with culturally diverse communities

Rethinking engagement

An investigation into successful community engagement programs, conducted by the University of NSW, Australia, synthesises qualitative research results and implications for community engagement practices, and the design of media strategies.

Australian Water Futures: Rethinking Community Engagement
Water Recycling and Media: Guidelines for Communication
Water Recycling and the Public: Guidelines for Community Engagement

Enhancing risk communication

A study by Griffith University and The University of Queensland identifies enablers and barriers to effective risk communication, plus strategies to deal with the challenges in building confidence in potable water reuse projects.

Enhancing Risk Communication
Lessons learnt from national and international case studies

 

Resources

Think and Drink – Systems Thinking

This short animation uses the water recycling system on the International Space Station to introduce the idea that all water on Earth is and always…

Community Understanding of Risk and Safety

Project Report Water Reuse and Communities Toolkit Module 2: Community Understanding of Risk and Safety in relation to Recycled Water A report of a study…

Understanding Customer Attitudes and Segments

Water Reuse and Communities ToolKit Module 4: Understanding Customer Attitudes and Segments A report of a study funded by the Australian Water Recycling Centre of…

Water Availability and Community Perceptions

Water Reuse and Communities ToolKit Module 5: The Influence of Water Scarcity on Public Willingness to Consider Water Reuse A report of a study funded…