Activity Introduction

Quick summary: In this activity students look at a range of potential water conservations strategies and assess each of these strategies against the 4 E’s of Economy, Environment, Equity and Effectiveness. Students are asked to select the strategy that they believe scores the highest against these criteria, and present their results to the class with a justification for their decision.Students understand there are numerous different ways in which our government could introduce water conservation measures.However, each of these measures needs to be carefully assessed to ensure the fairest and best result for consumers, the economy and the environment.

This activity has been adapted from National Geographic Xpeditions.

Learning goals for this activity include:

  1. Recognise the social, environmental and economic impacts of water conservation strategies.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to work collaboratively, creatively and fairly in problem solving exercises.
  3. Present the research and communicate personal opinions with thought and clarity.
  4. Communicate effectively in fair and considered class-wide discussion on issues.
  5. Demonstrate the ability to work independently or collaboratively to research and compile information on issues (extension).

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions:

Year 9 Science

  • People can use scientific knowledge to evaluate whether they should accept claims, explanations or predictions (ACSHE160)
  • Criticallyanalyse the validity of information in secondary sources and evaluate the approaches used to solve problems (ACSIS172)

Year 9 English

  • Explore and reflect on personal understanding of the world and significant human experience gained from interpreting various representations of life matters in texts (ACELT1635)

Year 10 Science

  • People can use scientific knowledge to evaluate whether they should accept claims, explanations or predictions (ACSHE194)
  • Critically analyse the validity of information in secondary sources and evaluate the approaches used to solve problems (ACSIS206)

Year 10 English

  • Evaluate the social, moral and ethical positions represented in texts (ACELT1812)

Syllabus Outcomes: SC5-13ES, SC5-7WS, SC5-8WSEN5-7D

Topic: Water

Year levels: 9 and 10

Indoor or outdoor activity: Indoor

Time required: 45+ mins

Learning areas addressed: Economics and Business, Sustainability.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Lead students in class presentation and discussion.

Resources required: Printed worksheet for each group or fill out online.

Homework and extension opportunities: This activity includes opportunities for extension.

Keywords: Water, Presentation, Discussion, Conservation, Economy, Environment, Equity, Effectiveness, Policy.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher preparation


Water is a pretty big issue in Australia. We hear about some parts having far too much and some parts having far too little. We also hear about needing to share water between human uses and our environment. One way of limiting the amount of water that humans use is to put a price on it. Who puts a price on it? Economists. It’s not an easy job: If an economist is going to suggest that the price of water needs to be increased, they will need to consider who will bear the increase in costs. Will the costs be distributed equally or will one group pay more than another group? On top of that, the economist will also need to think about whether or not there is a more efficient way to allocate the water than by means of a broad-based price increase. Got a headache yet?

Activity outline

Part 1: Begin the activity by leading a class discussion and asking students to cast their minds back to the recent drought. It lasted about 10 years and had devastating cons

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Student Worksheet


Issues of drought, water conservation and effective use of water resources are big issues in Australia. In order to help address some of these issues, the government has proposed five different approaches to water conservation. These are:

  • Broad-based price increase
  • Progressive tax structure for water pricing
  • Prohibit domestic outdoor water use
  • Voluntary water restrictions
  • Compulsory water restrictions

Your task is to:

  • Consider each of the proposed water conservation strategies and summarize how they address the 4 E’s by filling in the spaces provided below.
  • Grade each proposal out of 10 for it’s potential to meet the 4 E’s.

THE 4 E's





How equitable is the policy?

Who will bear the costs of the policy?

Will the costs be distributed equally?

Will the people who must pay the costs be able to afford them?

If they cannot afford the costs, will there be subsidies available to them?


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