Factors influencing public perception and use of municipal drinking water

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Despite more stringent regulations concerning drinking water quality in many countries, the public is increasingly concerned about the safety of municipal tap water. For this reason, acquiring a better understanding of consumer perception of tap water is an important issue for water authorities and utility managers. In this study, water consumption choice and profile were investigated. The case under study is the territory of a water supply system in Québec City (Canada). Data on drinking water consumption was obtained through a questionnaire-based survey. Survey results showed that an important proportion (about one third) of the population under study do not drink tap water. To explain consumption choice (tap water or not) and consumption profile (levels of tap water consumption), binary and ordinal logistic regression analyses (LGA) were performed based on survey responses and complementary data resulting from measurements of water quality parameters in 32 locations throughout the water distribution system. Water quality information was managed through a water quality index (WQI). The WQI of each sampling point was associated with the location of each survey respondent using a geographical information system (GIS). LGA results showed that the geographical location of the consumer within the distribution system, the WQI and perceived risk toward water consumption were the main factors explaining both the water consumption choice and tap water consumption profile.

Keywords: drinking water, logistic regression, risk perception, taste and odor, water quality, water quality index

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