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Household rainwater tanks: mediating changing relations with water?

Carol Farbotko, CSIRO
Andrea Walton, CSIRO
Aditi Mankad, CSIRO
John Gardner, CSIRO


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Domestic rainwater tanks have become commonplace in Australia's urban landscape, and have become the physical embodiment of the changing relations between householders, water, and water authorities. The aim of our research was to understand these changing relations by examining how domestic rainwater tanks are inscribed with meanings and assumptions and thus mediate a relationship between households and government. In particular, we considered how domestic rainwater tanks are implicated in various understandings of entitlements to water collected or used in private domains. We examined how tanks can render visible the contestation over rights and obligations of state and citizen as to what is considered private and public water collection, management, and use at the scale of the household. Our exploration of these issues was conducted through a case study of changing water relations in South East Queensland, Australia, where there has been recent widespread installation of domestic rainwater tanks.

Key words

Australia; decentralized water collection; domestic rainwater tanks; household water; private water use; rainwater privatization; rainwater tanks; urban rainwater collection; urban rainwater storage; water rights

Copyright © 2014 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087