BTO rapport - BTO 2020.034

Tap water awareness in the Netherlands and Flanders: The development of an empirically-based framework


Since 2014, when the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) published a study warning of the lack of public awareness in the Netherlands regarding too little, too much and too polluted water, the concept of ‘water awareness’ has become an integral part of numerous public campaigns. At the same time, however, we find that most studies do not define the concept, let alone operationalise water awareness into measurable units. The key objective of this study is to conceptualise, operationalise and assess Tap water awareness; in doing so, it distinguishes between cognitive awareness (head), affectional awareness (heart) and behavioural awareness (hands). Based on the analysis of the results of the first empirical application of our Tap water awareness assessment framework, we conclude that Tap water awareness in both the Netherlands and Flanders is, indeed, generally rather low. The most significant variations in awareness scores are observed between people with different customer perspectives. The results stress the need for a more targeted approach in both awareness-raising campaigns and evaluations.

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