Water efficiency research has focused on consumption rates and the tools—for example, pricing—designed to modify consumers' demand. But municipal practitioners can also be a highly influential group and have been neglected in the conventional water demand management (WDM) research.
To understand better how to make WDM policy implementation more successful, practitioners “tacit knowledge” must be identified and examined. Tacit knowledge consists of deep beliefs and values about the way the world works and is important. Grounded in practical experience, tacit knowledge is informal, unspoken and often difficult to articulate. People may not even be consciously aware of their tacit knowledge; rather, their deepest beliefs and values operate as an implicit and unquestioned background understanding that shapes how they see the world and act within it. Tacit knowledge influences why practitioners are concerned about WDM, how they act on that concern and what they say about the issue when they talk to their colleagues.
Identifying and understanding the potential influence of tacit knowledge would be tremendously valuable for day-to-day practices in growing municipalities and for government agencies that are responsible for infrastructure and sustainable development. By understanding practitioners' learning processes, their rationale for action and the organizational cultures in which they operate, it will be possible to make more informed policy recommendations.