StormwaterManagement in Australia: Community Perceptions, Attitudes and Knowledge

ReportNo WSAA 95

August 1995




Asthe first stage of a study which aims to take a national approach to communitycatchment management of stormwater, a door to door survey with a total sampleof 1,193 was conducted in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. Thequestionnaire was developed to examine the following aspects of stormwater andits management.


A.               Environmental Values for Waterways

B.                Knowledge and Awareness of Stormwater Issues

C.                Relative Importance of Stormwater Management (compared with otherpublic services)

D.               Responsibility for Stormwater Management

E.                Willingness to Pay (for stormwater pollution abatement)

F.                 Potential Community Action

G.                Attitudes

H.               Demographics


Althoughthere were many statistically significant differences between cities in thesurvey results, these tended to be related to local circumstances rather thandifferences in attitude or philosophy. These differences are detailed in thereport and individual summary analyses are provided for each city.


Ofparticular note were the many similarities in city findings which can providethe basis for developing a national approach to stormwater management.


Thecommunity’s environmental values are consistent across cities, with clearcriteria for setting water quality standards. It is apparent that the waterquality of city rivers does not meet the community’s environmental values, andvery few exploitive uses are supported.


Althoughknowledge and awareness of the stormwater issue is variable across cities,there is a clear need for further education in all cities.


Thecommunity perceives a definite distinction between the management of quantityand quality of stormwater and place greater emphasis on the importance ofmanagement of quality. Although there is an acknowledgement of the roles of thecommunity and polluters in both the management and payment for qualityimprovement, there is also the indication of a large public good component inthis aspect of stormwater management.


Respondentsreported that they were already doing many actions which assist with qualitymanagement of stormwater. Attitudinal items were the major predictors ofpotential community action, with knowledge and benefits apparently having very littledirect influence.


Thereport identifies a number of areas for future investigation, particularly inStage 2 of the study, which will look at the feasibility of urban catchmentmanagement of stormwater.


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