Open Access Editorial Special Issue

Open Access Review Article: Special Issue

A Review of Urban Water-energy Linkages in End-use: A Call for Joint Demand Studies

Simon De Stercke, Ana Mijic, James Keirstead

International Journal of Environment and Climate Change, Page 192-200
DOI: 10.9734/BJECC/2016/23725

Aims: A literature review to show the importance of combined water and energy demand end-use studies and to illustrate techniques that can be applied for these analyses.

Study Design: A review of energy-related water end-use and water-related energy end-use studies.

Place and Duration of Study: Cited studies on urban water/energy use are mainly based on the work done in the UK, Australia or the US, which has been completed over the course of the past decades but mainly in recent years.

Methodology: An overview included studies focused on the different energy and water end-uses in cities, their quantification and methods for estimating those end-uses using aggregate indicators such as total energy or water use. Particular focus was given to the estimation of water-related energy and energy-related water.

Results: Up-to-date research has been focused on the disaggregation of the actual end-use for energy and for water separately, estimating the corresponding water/energy use. There is considerable uncertainty about the joint end-use of water and energy, and the implications of this linkage for the overall water and energy supply at the city level.

Conclusion: Combined water/energy end-use is an important end-use component. Water and energy end-uses have been studied extensively in isolation using empirical approaches. However, there is a need for empirical studies of the combined water/energy end-uses that can greatly reduce the uncertainties on the feedbacks between the two systems, and benefit both utilities and end-users.

Open Access Review Article: Special Issue

Participation or Exploitation: How Can Concepts of Community and Privatization Coalesce around Water Efficiency Approaches?

Mary Gearey

International Journal of Environment and Climate Change, Page 201-215
DOI: 10.9734/BJECC/2016/18186

The need to promote water efficient technologies and initiatives is increasingly a central feature of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM). Attendant to this is a growing focus by IWRM practitioners of the role that community plays in supporting a range of interventions that reduces overall water demand. Public information campaigns led by municipal authorities and water companies encourage water users to become involved in resource husbandry both inside and outside the home. Community participation is encouraged through community water reuse schemes, fundraising campaigns to build community scale water efficient interventions, and NGO, regulator and water company education activities to promote lifestyle changes which support water efficiency endeavours. Whilst there is a clear rationale for involving the community in water management, critical questions should be posed around the way in which this community participation is valued, particularly within privatized water resource management regimes. Does the drive to maximise water efficiency encourage participation or is it an “exploitation” of goodwill? Who derives the maximum utility from this approach; water stakeholders or water company shareholders? Exploring concepts of household revenue streams, Human Scale Development (HSD) and the Transition Network Movement (TNM), this paper advocates an approach that repositions water efficiency initiatives in such a way that ensures that community participation efforts are sufficiently rewarded within socially and environmentally sustainable markets.

Open Access Original Research Article - Special Issue

Rainwater as a Domestic Water Supplement in Scotland: Attitudes and Perceptions

Selina N. Egyir, Caroline Brown, Scott Arthur

International Journal of Environment and Climate Change, Page 160-169
DOI: 10.9734/BJECC/2016/23723

Aims: Water resources in Scotland are under immense pressure despite the perception that Scotland enjoys abundant rainfall and water resources. The transport and treatment of water utilizes high amounts of energy is which contradicts the UK government’s carbon neutral agenda. There is also the need to ensure reliable water supply to households whilst protecting the natural environment. The intent of this study therefore was aimed to explore the feasibility of rainwater harvesting (RWH) as a domestic water supplement in some selected peri-urban areas in Scotland by understanding people’s perceptions, attitudes and behaviour towards RWH systems; and the preference for a community or individual system.

Methodology: Paper questionnaires were administered randomly to households using Private Water Supply (PWS) in three local areas: Highlands, Scottish Borders and Aberdeenshire over a period of 4 months.

Results: The response rates for Highlands, Scottish Borders and Aberdeenshire were 28%, 27% and 19% respectively, with the latter being marginally below target. The survey responses revealed that participants were unlikely to use RWH for domestic purposes including drinking, bathing, dishes and laundry but felt RWH would be acceptable for most uses except drinking. These included non-potable uses such as gardening, car washing and toilet flushing.

Conclusion: Most respondents were indifferent to implement RWH in their house if their neighbor used it or if it was a community set-up, but were willing to consider it if grant incentives were offered.

Open Access Original Research Article - Special Issue

Customer Attitudes to Water Use and Its Conservation

James O. Jenkins, Alexis Pericli, Lisa Palframan

International Journal of Environment and Climate Change, Page 170-178
DOI: 10.9734/BJECC/2016/18182

Aims: Understanding how customers engage with and view their water usage is crucial to the design of more effective water demand management policies and programmes. This paper presents the findings of a small-scale research project that sought to explore customer attitudes to the use of water and its conservation, particularly in the context of seasonal tariffs used during the summer peak usage months (May to August).

Study Design: The study adopted a qualitative approach, implemented through a series of face-to-face semi-structured interviews.

Place and Duration of Study: The study was conducted with domestic water users in Bishops Stortford, East Hertfordshire (UK). The research was carried out by staff from the School of Life and Medical Sciences at the University Hertfordshire. The study was conducted over a period of 6 weeks.

Methodology: A series of 20 face-to-face semi-structured interviews were carried out with a pre-defined sample population. The selected customers were split into two equal sized groups depending on their relative water usage to reflect either an increase or a decrease in water usage [as a consequence of Affinity Water’s seasonal tariff trial].

Results and Discussion: The study highlights study participants as being disengaged from their water usage and the associated efforts to reduce their usage, so simply increasing water prices at seasonal peak usage times was not, on this occasion, an effective method to adopt to reduce domestic water usage. However, by subsequently exploring customer attitudes towards a selected range of alternative water conservation measures, such as the subsidisation of water efficient appliances, and rebates for reduced water usage, it is established that alternative water conservation measures may have the potential to more effectively encourage a reduction in water usage. However, as the findings of this study also serve to highlight, the issue of ‘institutional trust’ emerges as a key issue to consider when seeking reductions in water usage by increasing its unit cost, with accusation of profiteering looming large.

Conclusion: It is suggested that a richer mix of policy responses demand management will be needed to convince domestic water users of the need to reduce their water usage.

Open Access Original Research Article - Special Issue

Reframing Water Efficiency: Determining Collective Approaches to Change Water Use in the Home

Claire Hoolohan, Alison L. Browne

International Journal of Environment and Climate Change, Page 179-191
DOI: 10.9734/BJECC/2016/18187

Aims: This paper explores the collective ordering of domestic water use, shaped through shared social, technical and natural relations, and outlines how this understanding can be used to inform water efficiency initiatives in order achieve sustainable domestic water consumption.

Study Design: Literature review, focus group and qualitative data analysis.

Place and Duration of Study: South of England; December 2013.

Methodology: Three focus groups were held with consumers in the south of England. Each group comprised of 5-8 participants, strategically sampled for a mix of genders and metered/ unmetered customers, and split by life-stage (where age was used as a proxy; 21-35, 36-50, 50+). In-depth, semi-structured discussion techniques were used to investigate the collective drivers of everyday water use and the impact of water efficiency initiatives in changing patterns of water use in the home.

Results: Four key drivers are identified: 1) expectations of service and supply; 2) decision making 3) social norms and networks and 4) socio-technical practices. The findings reveal that while evidence of all drivers are identified in focus group discussions, some offer greater value for intervening in household consumption than others. The discussion uses the example of household laundry to explore the implications of this research for informing water efficiency activities.

Conclusion: Achieving sustainable domestic water consumption requires fresh thinking about water use as a collectively ordered activity. The approach taken highlights alternative spaces for intervention and the findings of this research sheds light on the efficacy of existing water efficiency activities in bringing about more sustainable domestic consumption. The implications of this research are a shift away from providing information and incentives, toward building a more transparent and open relationship with consumers about water resources and developing the resources to identify and address broad social and technological trends that inhibit behavior change.

Open Access Original Research Article - Special Issue

Water Sector Service Innovation: What, Where and Who?

Sarah Ward, Steve Brown, Aaron Burton, Kemi Adeyeye, Noel Mannion, Siraj Tahir, Craig Gordon, George Chen

International Journal of Environment and Climate Change, Page 216-226
DOI: 10.9734/BJECC/2016/23730

Aims: Changes in water law and policy, in the UK and further afield, are promoting social and service innovation, as well as technical innovation in the water sector. In particular, the separation of wholesale and retail water and sewerage services for English and Welsh commercial water systems customers is leading to a focus on service innovation. But what do we mean by 'service innovation'? To whom does it apply and how do these parties interpret it? To answer these questions, this paper presents the findings of recent interviews undertaken by and case studies presented to the Water Efficiency (WATEF) Network Service Innovation Technical Committee.

Study Design: The paper explores definitions and interpretations of service innovation (SI) and discusses case studies where SI is already being realised in the water sector.

Methodology: The study was conducted using interviews and case studies.

Results: A tree-branch model of SI is proposed, emphasising the placement of the customer as the focus of SI. A revised definition of SI was also provided to assist water service providers in enhancing the services provided to their customers.

Conclusion: The study revealed that the water sector offers scope for improvement in fundamental business services. These include billing, customer relations, communication (information services) and data provision and visualisation.