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Keywords:

  • Australia;
  • water conservation;
  • behaviours;
  • sustainable living;
  • drought;
  • prestige

The paper outlines water conservation behaviours and assesses the level of congruity between the stated water use of householders against their actual metered consumption. A profile of high water users in three parts of South Australia is offered: two metropolitan areas differing in socio-economic characteristics and a regional town. The research used a postal questionnaire, a follow-up telephone interview and corresponding household water meter readings. Location, household size and annual household income have significant predictive qualities for high per capita water use. The number of times gardens were watered in a week, watering the garden more often than was permitted under the restrictions, and the manner in which conservation behaviours were carried out helped predict high per capita water use. Participants had an accurate idea of the magnitude of their water use and how it compared with that of other households. High water users knew that they were high consumers of water. Implications of the findings for water demand management are briefly outlined.