C3 EFFICIENCY IN WATER USE – Managing demand and supply
Demand management reflects a major shift in the approach to water resources management, away from traditional supply development (construction of physical infrastructure to capture more water for direct use) to an improvement in efficiency of use, conservation, recycling and reuse of water. Demand management examines changing demand and the way people use water in order to achieve more efficient and cost effective water use. It can help to reduce wasteful use of the resource, which represents an opportunity lost as well as the use of water without an economic purpose. Demand management can sometimes obviate the need for physical or infrastructure investments, providing real efficiency gains to society. Demand management works best in an IWRM framework which looks across sectors and makes proper links between policy instruments and impacts.
Demand management applies at the river basin level, at the level of large users of water (utilities, industry), and at the level of agricultural users and households and communities. While different techniques may be used at each level the approach is similar. Demand management aims to change human practice and behaviour directly and is hence linked closely with social change instruments (C4), regulatory and economic instruments (C6 and C7) and communication and knowledge (C8). The use of demand management should be supported in the overall policy framework and built into planning for IWRM (C2). Serious effort is required for demand management since most water users believe they have a right to use (and waste) water freely, without appreciating the impacts of wasteful water use on society and the environment. Education should change attitudes in the long term and communication campaigns are needed to change short-term behaviour on water saving in drought emergencies.