• Project No 1023
  • Project Name Public perception of drinking water source protection: Who wants what?
  • Lead Organisation Water Corporation
  • Main Researcher Blair Nancarrow
  • Completion Year 2010

Project Description

Climate change is depleting water resources, while population increases drive demand for additional recreational facilities, particularly in the vicinity of urban centres. It was thought that public access to water catchment land and reservoirs might cause large-scale outbreaks of disease, and that the water-consuming public would have to pay more for the additional water treatment required to keep drinking water free of the organisms that cause infectious disease. Some consider this unfair because it is an added expense that results from recreational access by a minority of the population. This research considered peer-reviewed literature, policy and regulation, hazard and risk assessment procedures, and placed these in the context of interviews, focus group interactions and surveys. It was concluded that although the science of the adverse effects of recreational access on water quality continues to stand up to examination, there is now justification for conducting an advanced risk-benefit analysis which was developed during the study. This uses a ‘multi-attribute utility’ approach that enables assessment of any given situation by incorporating cross-impact matrices. This risk-benefit methodology addresses the significant issues that arise when adjusting or implementing new recreational access priorities.