This social research project investigated industry leader perspectives and decision values in relation to promoting management techniques to address sustainable water supply issues across urban regions. The conditions under which structural (engineering) and non-structural (behavioural change) solutions are prioritised and implemented was investigated through semi-structured interviews of senior representatives from water authorities, State Government agencies, local government, developers, consultants and academics across Metropolitan Melbourne. In theory, a mixed structural and non-structural approach is typically advocated for advancing sustainable urban water futures. However, there is a lack of knowledge of the decision criteria of how to select and systematically integrate these approaches. The results reveal that industry leaders would not promote non-structural solutions without the primary support of a structural solution. Largely due to lack of certainty about social receptivity, this was perceived as presenting a substantially higher risk to achieving a sustained reduction in potable water demand. Therefore, structural approaches were viewed as much easier to implement, monitor and enable reliable outcomes. This evidence strongly suggests that without social research directed at quantifying both the uncertainties and outcomes of non-structural solutions, it is unlikely that industry leaders will be in a position to effectively promote and resource their implementation as an independent initiative.

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