Participation or exploitation: how can concepts of community and privitisation coalesce around water efficiency approaches?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBNpeer-review


The Water Framework Directive has as one of its central objectives stakeholder participation at the catchment scale. Accounts of water governance encourage water users outside of formal stakeholder relationships to become involved in resource stewardship, both inside and outside the home. In particular water conservation and increased water efficiency is presented as a community ‘issue’ which relies upon voluntary contributions of time and labour to support the stewardship of urban and rural water environments. This community participation is evidenced through fundraising to build community rain gardens, rain water harvesting within communal and municipal buildings and NGO, regulator and water company campaigns to promote lifestyle changes which augment household water efficiency through technology and personal use habits. Whilst there are good reasons to involve the community in water management, we need to ask some critical questions about the way in which this community participation is valued within a quasi-privatised water resource management regime. 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, monopoly, human economy and the Transition Town movement, this paper advocates an approach that repositions water governance at the catchment scale in such a way that ensures that community participation efforts are sufficiently rewarded.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Water Efficiency Conference, 2014
Place of PublicationBrighton, UK
PublisherUniversity of Brighton
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sept 2014
EventProceedings of the Water Efficiency Conference 2014 - Brighton, UK, 9-11 September 2014
Duration: 9 Sept 2014 → …


ConferenceProceedings of the Water Efficiency Conference 2014
Period9/09/14 → …

Bibliographical note

© 2014 The WATEF Network, University of Brighton


  • Community Participation
  • Human Economy
  • Water Efficiency
  • Water


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