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J Environ Manage. 2011 Mar;92(3):380-91. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2010.10.037. Epub 2010 Nov 16.

Review of socio-economic drivers of community acceptance and adoption of decentralised water systems.

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CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, 306 Carmody Road, St. Lucia QLD 4067, Australia.


The aim of this paper is to highlight key social and economic drivers crucial to understanding community acceptance and adoption of decentralised water systems. The review focused on social science literature pertaining to alternative forms of household water, with an emphasis on research examining decentralised water acceptance. Researchers consistently reported that most communities were open to alternative water sources for domestic applications; however, this was highly dependent upon the level of personal contact with the water. Acceptance and adoption of alternative water technology, such as decentralised systems, was influenced by risk perception, water culture, and threat perception. Motivational drivers were also identified as potentially influencing adoption of decentralised systems. A clear limitation of the literature was found to be an over-reliance on measuring people's intentions to adopt alternative water systems and building a conceptual understanding of acceptance solely on hypothetical water supply scenarios. Further, within the social science literature there appears to be a skewing towards focusing on acceptance of centralised alternative water, such as recycled and desalinated water systems. Although there are some research outcomes that are generalizable to the decentralised water context, it is clear that there is a significant gap in the knowledge base of social drivers specific to the acceptance of decentralised water systems and the factors contributing to its widespread use. It is recommended that future research focus on examining public attitudes relevant to decentralised water systems, as well as adoption behaviours among current users of these systems. This will assist in developing policies specific to domestic decentralised water use.

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