Water resources are subject to increasing stress in many urban areas. Managing water consumption and water supply are key issues for the sustainable development of cities. Despite a growing realisation among water managers and academics that water demand conforms to routines and internalized norms, which are developed within the social and cultural background of consumers, little research attention has been given to the possible impacts that the ethnic and cultural diversity of a population may have on water consumption.
This thesis aimed to explore the ethnic and cultural correlates of water use, bridging the information gap regarding water use in culturally diverse cities. Quantitative and qualitative research techniques were employed to analysis water use and conservation related attitudes and behaviors among three selected ethnic communities (Australian, Chinese and Korean communities) in the Sydney Metropolitan Area. The study identified that disparities and differences exist across the ethnic groups in pro-environmental water attitudes, behaviours and daily water use practices. The influence of ethnic factors on pro-conservational behaviours and water consumption was found to be significant, even greater than socio-demographic factors such as household size and income. The diverse coverage of water issues in English and ethnic media, plus the different habits, routines and considerations relating to water use across ethnic groups, were found to be important in understanding the ethnic effects on water use. The results highlighted the importance of including ethnicity and cultural sensitivity issues into the process of decision making in regards to environmental management.
This research is significant to understand everyday practices of water use by ethnic groups, and has important implications for water planning and management with regards to cultural sensitivity and equal opportunity.