Turning the tap : drinking water governance & public health in Tasmania : a sociological study
thesisposted on 2023-05-27, 15:09 authored by Whelan, JJ
This thesis provides a sociological investigation of the key processes and issues underpinning the control, management and provision of drinking water in Tasmania. Drinking water is an increasingly important social issue, not only because it is a fundamental human need, but also because the quality and quantity of drinking water resources are declining within Australia and worldwide. This study examines how governments and policy makers are responding to drinking water issues and the social, political and economic conditions, under which these responses are taking place. The research draws on semi-structured interviews with drinking water managers, providers and regulators to describe and explore how drinking water is governed in the state of Tasmania. A thematic analysis of the data was conducted which enabled a probing interpretation of drinking water governance and the processes of management, provision and public health regulation. Key texts relating to drinking water (legislation, policies/media documentation) were also used to inform the research and to contextualise the study from a national and international perspective. This study found that the management, control and regulation of drinking water in Tasmania particularly in regards to the protection of public health, is surrounded by contention, ambiguity and tension. The findings suggest that the institutional judgements and decisions pertaining to the management and regulation of safe drinking water is problematic, and that interpretations and constructions of risk are vastly different among managers and regulators of drinking water. The localised effects of national economic reform and global neo-liberal policy are also shown to be impacting on.the equitable provision of safe and plentiful drinking water in this state. The thesis builds on and adds to environmental sociology by drawing on risk and political economy perspectives to explore the key processes supporting the governance of drinkfog water. It concludes with a discussion of different strategies for managing safe drinking water and points to the need for further sociological investigation into water issues as a social problem.
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