Risk governance in the water sensitive city: Practitioner perspectives on ownership, management and trust

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In the water sensitive city, a hybrid mix of centralised and decentralised water systems and sources will operate at a range of scales to provide sustainable fit-for-purpose water services that will safeguard environmental quality, intergenerational equity and landscape amenity. Governance of these systems is likely to differ from the traditional arrangement, involving multiple stakeholders who must work together to manage risk. Trust will be essential to effective governance. This study explored attitudes of Australian urban water practitioners towards ownership and management of different water systems that might comprise the water sensitive city, including who they would trust to manage the associated risk. Results support the status quo, in which risk management responsibilities lie with state and local government or corporatised water utilities. Although practitioners support ownership and management of lot-scale water systems by home-owners, they trust them only to manage the risks associated with rainwater tanks. These results can be interpreted as risk perceptions, which are influenced by trust and knowledge. Implementation of decentralised water systems should be accompanied by governance arrangements that include strategies to enhance trust between stakeholders and to facilitate the co-production of knowledge to inform shared decision-making.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)218 - 227
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Inclusive risk governance
  • Practitioners
  • Risk perception
  • Trust
  • Water sensitive city

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