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Influences of Public Ecological Awareness and Price on Potable Water Consumption in the Geneva Area

IWRA World Water Congress 2008 Montpellier France
6. Water Conservation and Demand Management
Author(s): Catenazzo Giuseppe
Jennifer D'Urso
Emmmanuel Fragnière
Jean Tuberosa
Corresponding author: Emmanuel FRAGNIERE Professor HEG and Lecturer at the University of Bath Haute Ecole de Gestion de Genève 7, rte de Drize 1227 Carouge SWITZERLAND Phone: +41 22 388 17 24 Fax: +41 22 388 17 01 e-mail: emmanuel.fragniere@hesg

Keyword(s): Survey research, Water consumption, Demand Management, Public Policies
Article: Poster:

AbstractIntroduction The specific attitudes and behaviors of individuals of a given society must be properly understood in order to develop adequate and relevant public policies regarding water consumption. Unfortunately not enough studies investigate the social aspects of water consumption. Although many economics findings provide price elasticity ratios based on econometric models, we believe that price is not sufficient to induce an optimal behavior of the population. We learn from Service Science that clients are co-producers of a service. For instance, a service provided by a Utility consists in providing inhabitants with tap water of quality. If most inhabitants behave properly (e.g. pay the service, do not flush away toxic liquids, consume wisely), the service production can meet high standards of quality without much difficulties. A service also corresponds to an intangible (or invisible) production. It is thus crucial that that the Utility “tangibilizes” elements of value that will be perceived by its customers and consequently properly influence their behavior in the production process. Objectives We have conducted a survey research in order measure the perception of the Geneva population regarding main social aspects of water consumption. We collected 907 valid questionnaires. In particular, we wanted to address research questions such as: are water consumers influenced by their ecological awareness? Is their consumption influenced by price changes? Methodology The Haute Ecole de Gestion of Geneva (HEG-GE) has created a laboratory of market research (LEM, Laboratoire d’Etudes de Marché) whose main objective is to form students to marketing survey techniques. Among the mandates already carried by the LEM, let us quote "Electric tariffs in Geneva", "Elements of perception regarding sustainable developments in Geneva". The mandate under study in this paper, "Influences of public ecological awareness and price on potable water consumption”, was conducted from September 2006 to March 2007. A group of students took part in all the phases of the survey, that is: determination of the axes of investigation, development of the questionnaire, data collection, coding and statistical data processing, and finally communication of the results. Results We observed that most of the respondents indicate that they have an ecological awareness regarding their daily consumption of public water. On the other hand, we have discovered that they are generally not able to quantify their consumption (for drinking, cleaning, washing …). In terms of prices, most of the respondents do not know what they are paying for their water consumption. At the same time 80% indicate that its price is normal or cheap. Consequently, we had to include Contingent Valuation Methods (hypothetical scenarios) in our questionnaire to assess the consumption sensitivity relative to price. Relationships between classes as well as relationships between variables were analyzed and then research hypotheses have been verified on the basis of non-parametric statistical tests. For instance, as assumed, our data confirmed relationships between age, gender, and nationality factors and the water consuming behaviour. Conclusion This empirical research provides some elements of perception regarding public water consumption leading to recommendations for better demand management.
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