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Turning the tap : drinking water governance & public health in Tasmania : a sociological study


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Whelan, JJ 2009 , 'Turning the tap : drinking water governance & public health in Tasmania : a sociological study', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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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.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Whelan, JJ
Keywords: Drinking water, Water-supply, Water quality
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2009 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

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