Andre Boerema Parramatta November 8, 2005

Sydney Water (Australia) is reaching the final stages of developing a landscape assessment program whereby individual residential landscapes are assessed to determine their irrigation demand. This assessment is achieved via the collection of data including, plant species, soil types, aspect, sheltering, shading, slope, alternative water sources and existing irrigation infrastructure from each property visited. The result is an ability to provide detailed, seasonal irrigation scheduling advice (only a minority of properties, say 20%, have automatic, fixed irrigation systems here). Now that we've completed over 1,400 trial assessments, we're confident with our hypothesis that most gardeners deliver significantly more water to their gardens than is actually necessary for the garden to thrive. Our focus is now to reduce the 'gap' between water applied and water required by the assessed gardens (and others, over time) via behavioural change tools. In contrast, traditional approaches to residential outdoor demand management have focused on reducing a garden's demand for water, through the use of mulch, native plants, water storing crystals, etc. This approach, in the absence of tackling the behaviours associated with irrigation has the potential to simply increase the 'gap' between a garden's demand for water and the water applied to it. Our first stab at this onerous task has been to install tap tags for the participant gardeners. These provide a reminder at the garden tap of the nearby garden's seasonal irrigation schedule as determined by the landscape assessor (multiple tap tags for different garden areas were used, when required), we're just about to commence measuring the results via behavioural surveys (qualitative) and are very keen to see if anyone else has attempted to tackle this particular behavioral problem (or a similar one). Any insight as to what may work / or be worthwhile testing would be greatly appreciated.

Andre Boerema Program (Development) Manager
Water Conservation & Recycling Sydney Water Corporation
ph 612 9350 6485
fax 612 9350 5942