A healthy scepticism towards water in South Australia

Willis, Eileen, Pearce, Meryl, Mamerow, Loreen, Jorgensen, Bradley, and Martin, John (2013) A healthy scepticism towards water in South Australia. International Journal of Sociology, 33 (5-6). pp. 380-395.

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Purpose: This paper examines citizen trust at both a rational and affect level in the water utility provider, SA Water.

Design/methodology/approach: The study draws on data from a CATI of approximately 500 residents in two urban and rural locations.

Findings: Citizens have a healthy scepticism toward the utility provider suggesting they make a distinction between the capacity of SA Water to provide safe drinking water, and the political willingness of the government to plan for long‐term sustainability.

Research limitations/implications: The conduct of research on topics of a political nature may be viewed by respondents as a political act although it is possible to see the views expressed as representative. Research conducted during times of heightened awareness, such as during a drought when water restrictions are in place, may generate strong feelings of anger in government, but may not be a true measure of citizen trust in the provider.

Practical implications: The paper shows that trust in utility providers may vary according to social situations.

Social implications: Encouraging citizen trust in the water supply requires education in the science used to ensure safety, but also transparent regulation for ensuring risk management.

Originality/value: The study points to possible shifts in citizen trust in water providers depending on climatic conditions, the role of the utility provider, and the reputation of the government as a regulator and planner.

Item ID: 31542
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1758-6720
Keywords: Australia, Water supply, Citizens, Consumer behaviour, Trust, Regulation, Utility provider, Drought, SA Water
Copyright Information: Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC), South Australia Water
Date Deposited: 31 Jul 2019 04:15
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9607 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards > 960709 Urban Water Policy @ 100%
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