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Factors affecting the variability of household water use in Melbourne, Australia

Rathnayaka, K., Maheepala, S., Nawarathna, B., George, B., Malano, H., Arora, M., Roberts, P.
Resources, Conservation & Recycling 2014 v.92 pp. 85-94
children, data collection, households, models, planning, prediction, regression analysis, swimming pools, water management, Australia
This study investigates the variability of household water use in Melbourne with the aim of improving the current understanding of factors affecting residential water use. This understanding is critical to predicting household water demand, particularly at an appropriate spatial and temporal resolution to support Integrated Urban Water Management based planning and to improve the understanding on how different household water demands respond to demand management strategies. The study used two sets of data each collected from 837 households under significantly different water use conditions in the years 2003 and 2011. Data from each household consist of the household characteristics and quarterly metre readings. Ordinary Least Square regression analysis followed by detailed analysis of each factor was used to identify key factors affecting household water use. The variables studied are household size, typology of dwelling, appliance efficiency, presence of children under 12 years, presence of children aged between 12 and 18 years, tenancy, dwelling age, presence of swimming pool, evaporative cooler, and dishwasher. All of them except presence of children aged between 12 and 18 years, tenancy and dwelling age were identified as variables that contribute to the variability of household water use in Melbourne. The study also found that the explanatory capacity of these variables increases with decreasing water use. This paper also discusses the significance of the explanatory variables, their impact and how they vary over the seasons and years. The variables found in this study can be used to inform improved prediction and modelling of residential water demand. The paper also explores other possible drivers to explain residential water use in light of the moderate explanatory capacity of the variables selected for this study thus, provides useful insights into future research into water demand modelling.