Water Resources Management

, Volume 29, Issue 5, pp 1697–1711

Using the Concept of Common Pool Resources to Understand Community Perceptions of Diverse Water Sources in Adelaide, South Australia


DOI: 10.1007/s11269-014-0906-6

Cite this article as:
Leonard, R., Walton, A. & Farbotko, C. Water Resour Manage (2015) 29: 1697. doi:10.1007/s11269-014-0906-6


Diversification and integration of water supply systems is occurring to advance both water security and environmental sustainability, but research into community perceptions of these changes is in its infancy. In this paper, water user group discussions of the advantages and disadvantages of the diverse water sources used in Adelaide, Australia, are analyzed in terms of the urban water system as a common pool resource: one competitively accessed by numerous users that put it at risk of depletion. The research method was a water planning activity, in which visual cues were utilised to help water users reflect on conditions that they perceived would enable acceptance of seven water source options and one water efficiency option. The key results were that water sources were perceived to be in two categories: bounded sources associated with eco-systems and viewed as common pool resources vulnerable to depletion. Unbounded sources such as rainwater in tanks, stormwater, and wastewater were seen as under-utilised sources to be further exploited if any risks to health could be mitigated. Finally, keys to acceptance were authority to govern, prevention of waste, and community engagement.


Common pool resource Urban water planning Community perceptions 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rosemary Leonard
    • 1
    • 2
  • Andrea Walton
    • 3
  • Carol Farbotko
    • 3
  1. 1.Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)FloreatAustralia
  2. 2.University of Western SydneyPenrithAustralia
  3. 3.CSIRODutton ParkAustralia

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