Achieving the vision of water sensitive cities in Australia (and elsewhere) is a complex task involving simultaneous social, institutional and technological change. In this paper I review key concepts and findings from the socio-cultural literature on domestic water cultures and argue that four key domains need to be considered to enable positive change 1. more flexibility in systems and infrastructure so the public could escape ‘path dependency’ including flexibilisation of large scale water supply, drainage and sewage systems and water governance systems including water policies and pricing 2. The development of water sensitive practices in local communities and households. Bringing water sensitive practices to the core of community life in diverse public spaces, enabling community building around local water projects. Developments would take geographic diversity into account and be designed for local contexts. 3. Enabling and encouraging flexibility in domestic spaces and with domestic technologies so people are not ‘locked in’ to water wastage in laundries, bathrooms, kitchens and gardens. Enabling people to access alternative water sources and recycle water themselves 4. Attending to everyday practices and values around water including risk and trust. Enabling the everyday activities of achieving ‘cleanliness, comfort and convenience’ (Shove 2003) while using less water. I argue that we need to know more about the ‘meso’ level of the water sensitive practices of diverse communities and households to effectively promote and achieve change.
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