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Sydney's water supply is under great pressure as the demand continues to rise. Demand mitigation strategies have had some success, but domestic consumption remains high. This paper discusses the attitudes of households to their water consumption in a search for ways in which domestic demand for water may be reduced. Evidence on attitudes of households in different kinds of housing was obtained using a telephone interview survey supplemented by information derived from focus groups drawn from households in the same areas. The information was collected in a period when strong water use restrictions were in place and major arguments were being mounted in favour of water pricing as a way of moderating demand. The paper argues that the complexity of the forces shaping demand needs to be understood in the context of the socio-demographic composition of households in different kinds of dwellings, as well as the cultural, behavioural and institutional aspects of consumption, if public policy is to be successful in reducing consumption and/or providing alternative domestic supplies of potable water.