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12th National Water Conference Day Three 2.30pm Janet Saunders
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12th National Water Conference Day Three 2.30pm Janet Saunders


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Introduction of Recycled Drinking Water in Modern Water Supply Systems …

Introduction of Recycled Drinking Water in Modern Water Supply Systems

Is it realistic or tangible for the community to decide?

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  • 1. Introduction of Recycled Drinking Water in Modern Water Supply Systems Is it realistic or tangible for the community to decide? Presenter: Janet Saunders, Managing Director
  • 2. Introduction • Within Australia, recycled water still ‘perceived’ as a ‘relatively new concept’ - means a great deal of misinformation, myths and rumours continue to be circulated • One common theme - ‘emotional response’ can be very intense, on both sides of the debate • Announcing a recycled water project and then trying to defend it to the community - can now often be an ‘uphill and ineffective’ battle’ • But how much influence should the community have in deciding where/how their drinking water is sourced - do they have the necessary abilities to make such an important decision? • Would communities prefer their water utilities to provide drinking water from a range of sources - so people can make their own individual choices about drinking recycled water?
  • 3. Everyone Agrees…. 1. Australian Guidelines For Water Recycling: (Phase 2, July 2007) ‘Community support is vital for the successful introduction of drinking water augmentation schemes and effective community engagement is the best way to ensure such support.’ 2. ‘Refilling the Glass’ (WSAA Position Paper No. 02) ‘For the community to support recycled water for drinking, there needs to be effective communication and information transfer between the community, key stakeholders and the scheme proponent (usually a water utility)’ 3. AWA Water Recycling Forum Position Paper (JM Anderson): ‘There may be scope for greater use of indirect potable water recycling but its introduction should only be progressed after community acceptance of its necessity’ 4. Advances in Water Recycling in Australia 2003-07 (REUSE 07, John C Radcliffe, Commissioner, National Water Commission) ‘Community education is supported but it should be supplementary to a process of effective two-way consultation. Those with genuine concerns deserve a fair hearing’
  • 4. But Still So Many Questions…. Q1. How well does the water industry understand community attitudes/likely stakeholder behaviour to the introduction of recycled drinking water? Q2. Was Toowoomba’s reaction to the 2006 Referendum reflective of the Australian population at large? Q3. What are the risks/benefits of enforced/mandatory introduction of recycled drinking water versus building community support and acceptance prior to its introduction? Q4. Is community consultation still as vital as it was in achieving public acceptance for recycled drinking water? Q5: Is there a right or wrong way to consult with your communities about the introduction of recycled drinking water? Q6: Is a referendum/vote necessary to decide whether a community supports the introduction of recycled drinking water? Q7: Will the Western Corridor Project in Queensland be the trailblazer for wider spread community support for the introduction of recycled drinking water?
  • 5. Great Deal of Work Underway 1. ACTEW Water2Water - 3 month consultation program in-depth report to ACT Government, August 2007 2. Western Corridor Project - in-depth review of community attitudes by Queensland Water Commission prior to project being announced 3. Australian Guidelines For Water Recycling: (Phase 2, July 2007) - includes guidelines for community engagement, open to public comment for next 3 months 4. Ongoing Research: - CSIRO/AWA’s ‘Australian Water Conservation & Reuse Research Program’ - Cooperative Research Centre for Water Quality & Treatment’s ‘Community Views on Water Recycling’ 5. Other water utilities/local councils talking to local communities - about recycled water for both drinking/ non-drinking purposes
  • 6. Taking it One Step Further… Combine ‘behavioural change tools’ and traditional ‘community consultation’ methodologies to: • Provide a better understanding of stakeholders’ sometimes ‘irrational’ beliefs about recycled drinking water • Identify to what degree these ‘beliefs’ influence stakeholders’ behaviour/response to the introduction of recycled drinking water • Provide water utilities with more accurate predictions (up to 98% accuracy) about the degree to which the community will ‘support’ the introduction of recycled drinking water • Help create effective, ‘scientifically based’ community consultation programs that achieve wide spread, sustainable acceptance for the introduction of recycled drinking water
  • 7. Taking it One Step Further… These tools are designed to: 1. Reveal the deep seated beliefs of the community - which dictate their behaviour/response to recycled drinking water 2. Identify the emotions that are triggered in individuals/ specific stakeholder groups - when presented with the concept/possible introduction of recycled drinking water 3. Identify what % of the community are angry, in denial, reasonable, accepting - about the concept/possible introduction of recycled drinking water 4. Provide a roadmap for designing/implementing an effective, transparent, two way - ongoing community consultation process
  • 8. Couple of Tools to Consider • Core Belief Research • Attitude/Behaviour Matrix Widely used around the world in the corporate arena to achieve best practice: - stakeholder engagement - human resources - conflict resolution - leadership development - customer retention/management - investment/market positioning - strategic planning
  • 9. Core Belief Research Core Beliefs: • Deep seated views about ourselves, other people, world we live in • Core beliefs are either positive or negative, are formed through individual life experiences/personal circumstances • Specific view is only a ‘core belief’ when it’s held by more than 75% of people in a particular stakeholder group • Core beliefs cannot be changed, only the intensity with which they are held can be influenced • Core beliefs of a stakeholder group are impacted by the ‘bandwagon effect’ Core Belief Research: • Relies on carefully worded questions to delve beyond a person’s attitudes and perceptions • Primary source of data = surveys, other stakeholder feedback processes • Secondary source of data = detailed analysis of written correspondence, physical actions of stakeholders (body language, tone of voice, choice of words/phrases)
  • 10. Core Belief Research Examples of Core Beliefs: 1. ‘Weather forecasters never get it right’ 2. ‘Governments/politicians can’t be trusted, they’re all as bad as each other’ 3. ‘It will rain eventually’ 4. ‘Water is safe to drink it if comes out of my kitchen tap’ 5. ‘My water provider has a responsibility to provide me with safe, high quality drinking water’ 6. ‘If discoloured water comes out of my tap it isn’t safe to drink’ 7. ‘Water from sewage is dirty and not safe to drink’ 8. ‘Water in our dams and rivers is a natural source of drinking water’ And of course everyone’s favourite: All women are bad drivers!
  • 11. It’s All in the Questions… ‘ACTEW has recently initiated the Water2Water project which is an option to secure ACT and the region’s water supply. This proposal would supplement our water supply by purifying Canberra’s used water (or wastewater) and adding this to the Cotter Reservoir. Technology exists that can treat used water to a standard safe for human consumption. Once purified, the water would blend with the water in the catchment and after some time go through the normal treatment process at the Stromlo Treatment Plant before being distributed to households. The purification project would take 2-3 years to implement. In addition, the Cotter Reservoir would also be enlarged to provide additional storage for the purified water and catchment flows. Water2Water will only proceed if the ACT Government and ACTEW are assured that the quality of water produced will meet Australian drinking water standards.’ Q: Based on this brief description, how would you describe your initial reaction to this project? Positive, Positive initial reaction but conditional, Neutral initial Reaction, Negative initial reaction but conditional, Negative Q: Why do you say that?
  • 12. It’s All in the Questions… Additional questions could include: Q1: Please describe, in your own words, where you believe recycled water originates from Q2: What else do you know about recycled water? Q3. How does the thought of drinking recycled water make you feel? Q4. How do you believe recycled water should be used to supplement traditional sources of water, both drinking and non-drinking? Q5: If you have never sampled purified recycled water, how do you believe it would look, taste and smell? Q6. If you have sampled purified recycled water, how did it look, taste, smell? Q7. In your own words describe how it differed, if at all, from traditional tap water?
  • 13. Core Belief Research Core belief research includes a detailed analysis of: • All written interaction between community members and their water utility - to identify their core beliefs • Media coverage - to identify other factors that may be impacting/triggering people’s core beliefs • Body language of community members at forums, community meetings, shopping centre displays, focus groups - to help identify their ‘personality profiles’ Resulting data used to help identify: - positive/negative core beliefs - key drivers/barriers to changing stakeholder behaviour - key phrases that tap into positive core beliefs/trigger negative core beliefs - people’s preferred information delivery mechanisms (visual, written, direct/indirect)
  • 14. Attitude/Behaviour Matrix Denial x% Anger x% Acceptance x% Reasoning x% • Data collected as part of core belief research - identifies what % of the community are in each quadrant at a specific point in time, can then track their movement through the process • Findings have an enormous impact on how water utilities - should be communicating/consulting effectively with their communities • Aim is to move as many people as possible into the reasoning/acceptance quadrants - thus reducing the emotions of anger or denial to ensure recycled drinking water gets ‘fair and reasonable consideration’ • By not knowing which of the four states of emotion stakeholders are in - increases the risk of community consultation programs intensifying people’s emotions, with fear likely to become the dominant emotion
  • 15. Toowoomba Experience Based on anecdotal feedback from Toowoomba Council staff: • Original plan was to undertake a 2-3 year community consultation program - to gradually build acceptance for recycled drinking water • Communications program was beginning to deliver results - strong indications of increasing support for introduction of recycled drinking water • Decision to hold a Referendum - changed the community consultation dynamics • Emotive ‘No’ campaign included ‘powerful’ television advertisements - based on fear which eroded community support • Stakeholders were suddenly faced with making a black or white decision - they could only vote Yes or No • The ‘No’ campaign argued that a ‘Yes’ vote meant people would no longer have a ‘choice’ - and that by voting NO would ensure all possible options to boost the region’s water supply would remain on the table
  • 16. Toowoomba Experience Additional behavioural change tools would not necessarily have changed the outcome but may have identified: 1. Whether the community understood what made Toowoomba unique - and where recycled water fitted into the mix of other available options to boost water supplies? People needed to be sure these other options had been comprehensively explored 2. Whether it was ‘too hard’ for people to put their ‘trust’ in the local Council/Mayor - to provide safe, reliable, recycled drinking water? Did people believe the Council had the skills/technologies to protect public health? 3. Did fear overwhelm the community - because they became convinced that a Yes vote would lock them into a single long-term option, and rule out other perhaps less risky options 4. Whether issues such as affordability were key factors - or just sub-issues that disguised people’s real core beliefs? • Whether people having to ‘formally vote’ made it easier for them to say no - and in reality what they wanted was for their water utility/State Government to make the ‘difficult’ decision?
  • 17. Overseas Experiences UK Nuclear Industry • Research into attitudes to the nuclear power industry, in particular the building of new nuclear reactors • July 2001 - 60% public opposition, 20% support • November 2005 - 41% public support, 28% opposition • Turnaround achieved through comprehensive core belief research and resulting community consultation program UK Customer Trust Index • Survey of 2,441 adults in UK to identify key drivers for generating trust in retail brands and organisations • Research conducted on behalf of Microsoft, EDF Energy, London Underground, BT, Royal Bank of Scotland, The Body Shop and Orange • Total of six core beliefs identified which most commonly influence consumers’ buying decisions • Found that what people ‘believe’ about a brand or organisation was a more powerful influence on buying habits than price, quality or reputation
  • 18. Scaleable & Flexible • Recommended tools not just limited to engaging communities - about the introduction of recycled drinking water • Community engagement/education becoming increasingly important for water utilities - particularly as part of demand management/project risk management processes • Degree to which tools are used can be scaled up or down - to suit the particular circumstances/desired outcomes • Resulting data and analysis can be used - across a range of key management functions • Enables water authorities to better evaluate and improve their return on investment - in stakeholder engagement and community consultation activities
  • 19. Scaleable & Flexible Current/potential uses include: - Project Management (reduce risk of delays due to stakeholder related issues, assist with early identification of other potential ‘people related’ risks - Customer Service (improve overall performance, reduce number of complaints, keep customers better informed, deal with queries more effectively/quicker) - Project Reporting Processes (increase depth of available data analysis about specific stakeholder groups, communities, issues) - Demand Management (increase likelihood of permanent changes in water usage habits/future demand for town water, improve ROI on community education/engagement programs)
  • 20. In Summary • Widespread agreement that decision to introduce recycled drinking water - should be made with community support • To generate strong community support - early and best practice stakeholder engagement/community consultation is vital • Because recycled drinking water is such an emotive issue - traditional community consultation techniques may not be enough • Water utilities need a clear understanding of the deep seated beliefs - of their communities and other key stakeholders • Data must be obtained BEFORE a successful and effective two-way community consultation program - can be implemented • Only then can communities make a sensible, reasonable and balanced assessment - about the potential introduction of recycled drinking water
  • 21. Your Questions Answered