Direct potable water reuse in five arid inland communities: an analysis of factors influencing public acceptance

Indirect potable reuse, or IPR: releasing highly treated reclaimed water into an environmental buffer such as a surface water reservoir or an aquifer—that is later withdrawn and treated for potable use. This also arguably includes de facto IPR, where source waters are impacted by upstream wastewater discharges from other utilities. Since many cities are downstream of other cities along rivers, de facto IPR is very common.
Direct potable reuse, or DPR: drawing highly treated effluent from a water reclamation facility and sending it directly to a drinking water plant for treatment. This differs from IPR by not having the environmental buffer, like an aquifer or reservoir, between the wastewater discharge and the drinking water intake.

Click here to read the paper (Caroline E. Scruggs, Claudia B. Pratesi & John R. Fleck). Here’s the abstract:

Direct potable reuse (DPR) can improve reliability of water supplies by generating drinking water from wastewater, but communities have consistently opposed DPR more than other forms of reuse. Using interview data regarding DPR projects in five inland communities, this study fills gaps in the literature with an analysis of factors influencing acceptance of DPR. While scholars have recommended public processes used to implement non-potable and indirect potable reuse projects, there is little-to-no documentation about whether and how they have been used to implement DPR projects. Further, previous research has focused on large coastal cities. Counter to previous recommendations, we found minimal public deliberation of reuse options and public education/outreach occurring post-project conception. Findings suggest that direct experience with water scarcity, community smallness, and governance strongly influence DPR acceptance. With few DPR facilities worldwide, this new knowledge is useful to water planners who are interested in the feasibility of DPR in inland areas.

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