TRaCK: Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge

Science and knowledge that governments, communities, industries for sustainable use of Australia's tropical rivers and estuaries

Survey of Mitchell River catchment residents checks out water use development options

Survey of Mitchell River catchment residents checks out water use development options


By completing a survey of household spending and water use delivered by the mail this week, people who live in and around the Mitchell River Catchment will ultimately be able to find out what types of services will have the biggest impact on income, employment and water demand in their region.

Researchers with the Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge (TRaCK) program are distributing the survey randomly to 1000 households in the Mitchell region this week to discover how people spend their money in the community and what impacts this has on local water use.

"‘We want to eventually let residents know what types of spending do not ‘abuse’ available water supplies and are also good for regional economic development’, says Dr Natalie Stoeckl from James Cook University.  

Dr Stoeckl says changes in one part of a community can have unintended impacts on other parts of that community.

‘For example, a new tourist might spend an extra $100 in the local shop, but their impact doesn’t stop there. The local shop owner might buy new stock from Sydney or purchase fruit and vegetables from a local producer — or celebrate their good fortune with a beer at the local pub. The local producer and the publican may never see the tourist but this tourist affects their livelihood.’

Unintended impacts from changes in the community can also affect water use in a region.

‘When new tourists come to town they obviously take showers but it isn’t just this water they are consuming. If they buy fruit and vegetables we need to factor in the water coming out of the region to supply their food.’

The team wants to learn more about these unexpected side effects, so they can work out how the demand for water and local incomes are likely to change as populations change.

The TRaCK team already knows something about the way rural/remote businesses spend their money, but they know very little about the way households in the Mitchell River Catchment spend their money or about how much water they use.  

‘Most of the information available relates to people who live in large cities, which is why we are sending out so many questionnaires to households in the region,’ says Dr Stoeckl.  

The survey takes approximately ten minutes to complete and requests basic demographic information from household members, such as age and occupation — and information on their weekly household spending and water use.