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Cross-Cultural Perceptions of Water Risks and Solutions Across Select Sites

Larson, Kelli L., Stotts, Rhian, Wutich, Amber, Brewis, Alexandra, White, Dave
Society & natural resources 2016 v.29 no.9 pp. 1049-1064
developed countries, pollution, risk, water policy, water shortages, Bolivia, Fiji, New Zealand, United States
Water scarcity involves quantity and quality risks, as well as technological, behavioral, and policy-based factors. This study informs understanding of water scarcity by examining perceived threats and solutions across sites in the United States, New Zealand, Fiji, and Bolivia. Using interview data, we (1) characterize perceived water scarcity risks and solutions for each setting and (2) examine how perceptions differ across countries based on development and water scarcity. Broadly, residents in developed contexts worried more about quality than about quantity, and individual practices (e.g., preventing pollution) were most commonly cited as remedies. Yet significant differences exist across geographies. First, residents in water-scarce regions were relatively concerned about quantity, and they tended to emphasize collective policies and technologies. Second, residents of developed countries were more likely to suggest collective water policies as strategies, whereas those in developing areas stressed behavioral and technological strategies as solutions, primarily to pollution.