Encountering Water: Sensitivities and practices for moving beyond ‘Big Water’ interventions

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Accounts of the co-evolution of systems of provision with everyday practices are well established, and existing research has illustrated the intersections between ordinary patterns of water use and the infrastructures and institutions that supply water in domestic spaces. Several studies have demonstrated how encounters between people and water within the Big Water system – that which provides access to an expansive and uniform water supply and service in several developed nations – influence and normalise intensive patterns of everyday water use, thus contribute to such challenges such as water scarcity, drought and ecosystem degradation (e.g. Sofoulis, 2005, Taylor and Trentmann, 2011). However, despite this literature offering valuable insights, researchers elsewhere are calling for broader recognition of the multiple relationships between water and society; accentuating how forms of encounter that exist alongside modern infrastructural systems differentially shape everyday geographies (Bear and Bull, 2011). Our aim in this chapter is to respond to this call; to explore how encounters with water beyond the Big Water system shape everyday practice, and reflect on what this means for strategic responses to socio-ecological crises. We begin with a brief synopsis of the relationship between everyday water use and Big Water. The analysis that follows considers two sites of alternative encounter – participatory river restoration schemes and camping music festivals – and examines the opportunities that such differential experiences of water afford for the ongoing emergence of everyday practice.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWater, creativity and meaning
Subtitle of host publicationMultidisciplinary understandings of human-water relationships
EditorsLiz Roberts, Katherine Phillips
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Sustainable Consumption Institute
  • Manchester China Institute
  • Manchester Urban Institute


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