Climate change, rainwater harvesting and private water systems : perceptions, attitudes, and behaviours in Scotland
Egyir, Selina Naana
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Water resources in Scotland are under immense pressure despite the perception that it rains a lot and there are abundant water resources. High amount of energy is utilized for the transport and treatment of water for consumption which contradicts the UK government’s carbon neutral agenda. Climate change is also expected to alter precipitation patterns in the UK especially Scotland despite the perception that it rains a lot and there are abundant water resources. There is the need to adapt to water-related changes by ensuring reliable water supply to households whilst protecting the natural environment. This study explored the feasibility of rainwater harvesting (RWH) and climate change impacts on water supply in some selected peri-urban areas in Scotland. Other parameters of a water neutral development in Scotland were explored in the form of water consumption, water saving devices and water-related energy activities. Paper questionnaires were administered randomly to households using private water supply (PWS) in three local areas: Highland, Scottish Borders and Aberdeenshire and one household on the public mains water supply (MWS), Edinburgh over a period of 4 months. Overall, 378 residents’ responses and 8 stakeholders were interviewed on the feasibility of RWH in Scotland. Residents surveyed (98%) were aware of climate change in terms of the media, friends, and community. There were a lot of neutral outliers and negative responses from residents surveyed as to whether climate change was happening. When “wording” like the weather, floods, droughts, and water pollution were used, residents could relate to it happening and having a negative impact on their water resources. Just over half (53%) of residents surveyed had “no water saving device” and the most water saving device was a dual-flush toilet (32.9%). A high percentage (66.3%) believed it was important to conserve water through alternatives like RWH. For RWH to be acceptable, and implemented in Scotland, majority (66.7%) of residents felt having RWH would not be financially beneficial to them and their household but will implement it if given some form of grants. There was a distinct difference between PWS users MWS users; high proportion of PWS users perceived RWH not to be financially beneficial to them. More than half of the residents surveyed (55.6%) were willing to consider RWH if will ensure there was always constant water available and if it was easy to use (54.6%). Stakeholders felt, it will be difficult to implement RWH in Scotland, and sometimes confused RWH with greywater. Stakeholders perceived RWH as a climate change mitigation solution impossible.