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Consumption, Sources and Quality of Water in Four Different Countries

Authors
Publication Date
Keywords
  • International Comparison
  • Water Consumption
  • Water Quality
Disciplines
  • Ecology
  • Economics
  • Geography

Abstract

In each of the four countries involved in the research (Italy, France, India and Mexico), two specific “local contexts” are considered, based on contrasting geographical, climatic, cultural and access condition. The questionnaire investigated the different uses of water during a typical day, the perception of quantities of water used by the respondent and by others, and the perceived quality of water. Contrasting pattern of perception/representation/uses emerges between the different sites considered, and environmental conditions and type of supply seem to strongly affect people’s perception and action concerning fresh water resources. Beyond seasonal differences, water use seems primarily determined by the opportunities: status, type of housing and life style. Basically, consumption depends on economical status and expressed needs. People tend to use the quantities necessary to what they consider to be their needs, without depriving. In India, as well as in Mexico, poor people limit their daily consumption since, for instance in Mexico, they are forced to walk a number of blocks in order to get water from the only faucet they have for the settlement. On all the sites, the more water is available, the more water is used, without any concern for its wastage. Contrary to Europe, where water quality is overall good, it is of bad quality in India and Mexico. In Mexico middle and high-class individuals distrust water quality, stating that drinking water directly from faucets is risky for health. Poor people instead, see their water quality as good, and consume it directly from faucets. They are pessimistic about the future due to perception of scarcity in the past. The perception of the quality of the water seems to be function of knowledge and objective information. People think that others, not they themselves, waste water. Practically everybody knows one or more neighbours that are water wasters: Only people in the Sardinia Island (Italy), who experience poor water supply, explicitly declare themselves as actively engaged in water saving action in their daily lives. Water perception and consumption is widely dependent on the people’s condition of access to water, which in turn is largely dependent their economic faculties in the developing countries. People are more concerned about the local and immediate environmental problems such as water scarcity, garbage being or not being collected and traffic jams rather than depleting water resources, global warming, or other problems of the earth system.

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