Drivers of an urban community's acceptance of a large desalination scheme for drinking water

Fiona Gibson, Sorada Tapsuwan, Iain WALKER, Elodie Randrema

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Changing climates and growing populations have prompted policy makers to shift to more climate resilient, technology-driven water sources, such as seawater desalination. Desalination is a prominent water resource in the Middle East but countries in other parts of the world with similar scarcity issues and good access to sea water, such as Australia, have been comparatively slow to adopt it. This paper explores attitudes to desalination in Perth, Western Australia, and the factors that influence its acceptance. We compared individuals’ acceptance of desalination over two time periods by using identical surveys administered in 2007 and 2012. We then examined the attitudinal factors – attitudes towards desalination and attitudes towards the environment – that influence acceptance. Acceptance of desalination was reasonably high and stable at both times (74% and 73% in 2007 and 2012 respectively). We found that respondents’ attitudes to perceived outcomes and benefits, fairness, environmental obligation and risk were important predictors of their acceptance of desalination in both surveys. However the weight given to these aspects varied over time. The findings show that there is still mixed community sentiment towards desalination, which helps to explain why acceptance has not increased since desalination was introduced in 2006
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-44
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


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