Evaluating social perceptions, attitudes and participation in water resource management in Invercargill

Thumbnail Image
Other Title
Liyanage, Chameli
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Bachelor of Environmental Management
Southern Institute of Technology (SIT)
Palliser, Anna
Undergraduate Research Report
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
Invercargill (N.Z.)
New Zealand
water resource management
public participation
ANZSRC Field of Research Code (2020)
Liyanage, C. (2020). Evaluating social perceptions, attitudes and participation in water resource management in Invercargill. (Unpublished document submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Environmental Management). Southern Institute of Technology (SIT). https://hdl.handle.net/10652/5546
Public participation in water resource management is crucial for community development and resource sustainability. It is a way in which citizens can contribute local knowledge, experience and opinions to the policy process and have a more direct role in shaping policies and rules that affect them and their environments. This study aims to assess the perception and awareness of the Invercargill community towards the water quality and availability in Invercargill, their attitudes on water resource management in Invercargill and their experience in water-related engagement forums. To address these goals, a 32‐item public opinion survey was distributed among 100 participants of the Invercargill community and an interview was conducted with the Invercargill City Council. The results demonstrate that participants are overall satisfied with their water supply, with a higher satisfaction shown among people on rainwater supplies. The public perceived protecting water quality and availability as a very important issue facing the community and contamination was the key issue selected as afflicting the local water body. However, an apparent disparity was observed between the community and the council in that the latter perceived water availability (or lack thereof) as a higher threat. Respondents agreed to needing stronger laws to protect the quality and availability of water in Invercargill. A surprising result showed a large amount of uncertainty pertaining to the council’s performance in ensuring resilient water supplies from contaminants or earthquakes and other natural hazards, investing appropriately to manage flooding, and adequately planning for future water need. Community engagement in water-related issues was significantly low, with only 27% of the respondents willing to attend water-related local engagement events in the future. Results suggest more education and outreach is needed to provide additional information pertaining to drinking water supplies, the quality and availability of water in the community, and hazard prevention and control. Age was a key factor in information delivery as the participants of older age ranges favoured print material while the younger demographic preferred social media and the water utility website. The findings of this research have important implications for local agencies seeking to increase communication and engagement relating to water among the community. It is hoped that the results of this study would benefit the policy and planning executives in Invercargill in optimising the existing water resources for urban development.
Link to ePress publication
Copyright holder
Copyright notice
Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International
Available online at