We have plenty of water, don’t we? Social norms, practices, and contentions in a drought-ridden country

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Climate and land use change pose global challenges to water policy and management. This article furthers calls for integrated research conceptualizing water management as a holistic, interdependent system that may benefit from sociological research. To better understand how so-cioenvironmental change affects lifestyle expectations and experiences, interviews with in-migrants (relocated to inland Australia from metropolitan cities), industry and government informants are thematically analyzed. Results show in-migrants engage in adaptive water management and conservation strategies to enhance water security, yet call for council provision of water management education to minimize vulnerability. Industry informants perceive few water supply or pollution issues, favoring technological solutions to support unfettered growth and water amenities, while de-prioritizing environmental sustainability goals. Government priorities reflect drought narratives in Australian water policy reform and show concern about meeting consumer water supply and preserving water quality. With predictions of greater weather severity, including flooding, and in-migrants’ difficulty managing heavy rainfall, national legislation and policy modifications are necessary. Specifically, normalizing climate variability in policy and social identities is desirable. Finally, practices prioritizing water scarcity and trading management over environmental protection indicate a need to surpass environmental commodification by depoliticizing water management.

Original languageEnglish
Article number161
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2021


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