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A preliminary examination of variables which influence the public acceptance of potable water reuse applications
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Water resource management in Texas is maturing from an era of project development to one of water supply management through conservation, reallocation, and reuse as a means of meeting water supply needs. As opportunities for conventional water supply development dwindle and costs for wastewater disposal climb, the role water reuse plays in water resource management increases significantly. Both potable and nonpotable applications of reclaimed water offer a means to extend and maximize the utility of limited water resources. The literature on barriers to water reuse has primarily focused on public acceptance of nonpotable uses of the water. Very little research exists on the variables influencing public acceptance of water reuse for potable or nonpotable uses. Studies conducted by Bruvold (1972) revealed positive correlations between public acceptance of reuse and beliefs in water scarcity, pollution of existing supplies, perceived economic benefit, health official approval, and technological ability to purify water and wastewater. Bruvold (1980) also identified five factors which affected public acceptance of both potable and nonpotable uses. No further studies have been conducted to examine specific variables which influence public acceptance of potable water reuse. The purpose of this exploratory study was to identify the critical variables which influence public acceptance of potable water reuse or reuse in recreational settings where direct contact is likely. The study also sought to assess whether public preferences for reuse practices prescribed a hierarchy of acceptable applications. These research questions were answered through personal interviews followed by a brief questionnaire. The respondents in this study expressed four primary concerns about using recycled water for potable purposes: (1) short-and long-term health impacts; (2) reduction in the quality of the water supply; (3) mistrust of the reliability of treatment and distribution systems; and (4)possible pollution of water supplies. Of these variables, significant public concerns regarding the acceptance of potable water reuse are primarily limited to health and water quality issues. Results also indicated that the public is more willing to support nonpotable uses of recycled water, supporting some of the earlier research findings in the field.
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Foss, Michele Garteiser (1997). A preliminary examination of variables which influence the public acceptance of potable water reuse applications. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from
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