Australia's Relationship with Water

Water is taken for granted and subconsciously used. Water behaviours are deeply habitual so we used ethnographic and quantitative consumer research to understand their relationship with water. We hypothesized that by making ‘water visible’ - Australians would relate to it, value it and want to use it efficiently, If we could inspire a conscious relationship between every Australian and tap water it would significantly impact the nations household water use for the first time since the Millennium drought.

Exploring the drivers behind how Australian’s think and behave with water was our starting point…

We asked the following questions

  1. Do Australians care about water?
  2. Do they think about the water they use?
  3. Do they know where their water comes from?
  4. Is there a generation gap between water knowledge and behavior?
  5. Would Australians abandon 'Auto Pilot' for a 'Relationship' with water?
  6. How does Australia build a conscious relationship with water?

Is there a conscious relationship with water?...

With another national drought in full swing in many parts of the country, water corporations and councils are turning to water efficiency to curb consumer consumption. Climate change is causing more extreme temperatures, more droughts and more floods than ever before. Australia’s population is also increasing rapidly with more people flushing high-quality drinking water down the toilet or using it to water their plants.

At least 10 townships in NSW and South East Queensland (as of September 2019) will be facing ‘Day Zero’ in the next 6-18 months. The forecast is dire with David Jones, a Bureau of Meteorology climatologist, saying the drought has already exceeded the Federation Drought, the WWII Drought and the Millennium Drought in terms of its severity through the Murray Darling Basin.

Armed with the significant findings from this research, Smart Approved WaterMark (SAWM) is working with water utilities, local government, business and community groups to raise water consciousness among everyday Australian's to understand the underlying relationship they have with water to create a force for change around water use.

To find out more about this research, progress on its recommendations and the work of Smart Approved WaterMark contact Chris Philpot at

Research undertaken by Pollinate ( for Smart Approved Watermark - independently reviewed by the Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF).

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