Water scarcity communication in the UK: Learning from water company communications following the 2018 heatwave

Larbey, Ruth and Weitkamp, Emma (2020) Water scarcity communication in the UK: Learning from water company communications following the 2018 heatwave. Frontiers in Environmental Science, 8. ISSN 2296-665X

[thumbnail of fenvs-08-578423]
PDF (fenvs-08-578423) - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (224kB) | Preview


When communicating about water scarcity, public water companies in the UK operate within a fine balance. There is a legal obligation on water companies in the UK to promote efficient water use, and pressure on water resources means that water companies need to encourage changes in water consumption behaviors. However, there is a lack of information about the way UK water companies communicate with the public. This paper presents the results of research into UK water company practices and perceptions in engaging consumers around water scarcity and water saving and discusses what this means for water scarcity communication. Interviews with 10 water company communication teams (14 interviewees) following the 2018 UK heatwave explored opportunities, innovations and challenges in public communication. Interviewees recognized the need for an ongoing conversation about water in the UK and identified a number of practices which could support a change in public water consumption. The results highlight the perceived importance of trust, timing and community- or group-scale communications, and the need for a cross-sectoral and intergenerational approach to public communication about water resources. This research examines some of the current underlying assumptions of water companies about what influences public water consumption in the UK and offers insights into some of the key challenges and opportunities for the future.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: sdg 6 - clean water and sanitation ,/dk/atira/pure/sustainabledevelopmentgoals/clean_water_and_sanitation
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Environmental Sciences
UEA Research Groups: University of East Anglia Schools > Faculty of Science > Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research
Faculty of Science > Research Centres > Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research
Related URLs:
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 10 Oct 2022 09:30
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2023 10:30
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/88922
DOI: 10.3389/fenvs.2020.578423


Downloads per month over past year

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item