Nudging change: connecting action to consequences

Q&A with WSP’s Nikki Van Dijk and Mike Woolgar on our Value of Water research

As our population continues to grow, demand becomes an increasing challenge – the water we have isn’t necessarily going to be where demand is. For example, East Anglia gets a third less rainfall than the rest of the country but is also a centre for farming and is seeing rapid population growth.
Nikki Van Dijk Associate, Sustainability and Climate Change, WSP
The challenge is the issue in the UK isn’t visible or immediate and there’s also little pressure to change. We can learn a lot from locations more used to dealing with drought and water scarcity. In Orange County in California, during periods of drought, residents would receive a monthly bill telling them how much water they’d used. It would also tell them where they sat relative to other households and how much their current behavior and water use would impact their pricing next month. And people moderated behaviour quite markedly – because the issue is made more immediate and it appeals to their social conscience.
Mike Woolgar Water Strategy Director, WSP
Really this is effective because it takes minimal effort for the consumer, there is face-to-face support and a demonstration of interest in them and their household. Importantly, there’s almost no noticeable negative impact for them.
Mike Woolgar Water Strategy Director, WSP
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