IWA Publishing

Assessment of public perception regarding wastewater reuse

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A descriptive-correlational study was recently conducted in a four county metropolitan area in the southeast United States (US) as part of a collaborative effort between nursing and environmental engineering researchers. The purpose of the study was to assess attitudes, knowledge and information sources concerning wastewater reuse and evaluate the results with respect to population demographics. The study indicated that both men and women unfavorably view the use of wastewater for possible consumption (released into potable surface or groundwater supplies) or applications involving close, personal contact (laundry). Women were especially concerned about pumping wastewater into the groundwater for subsequent potable use. Both genders felt that wastewater reuse for applications not involving close personal contact (such as firefighting, car washing, lawn irrigation and agricultural uses) was acceptable. General knowledge concerning wastewater reuse was mixed. Those with lower incomes, less education, and 65 years of age or older had significantly less knowledge of this issue than younger, more educated, higher income individuals. Primary sources of information for most demographic groups included newspaper and television, although the Internet was identified as a frequent source for selected groups.

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