Water scarcity has prompted an increasing number of cities to look for non-conventional sources of clean water. One of these sources is reused water, or highly treated reclaimed or recycled wastewater, a worthy addition to the portfolio of water-resource alternatives that increasing cities are considering in view of demographic and environmental changes. In this paper, we analyse communications from the media, policymakers and utility managers on the technology used to produce reused water for potable purposes. The focus of our analysis is technology as a means for producing safe and reliable water supply in the long-term. Three places were selected because of their differing experiences with social acceptance: Singapore, Orange County (California, United States), and Queensland (Australia). We found distinct differences in the communications used in the three places, which we believe have strongly influenced public opinion on the provision of clean water through potable water reuse. In communicating technological innovations to the public, it is essential to also discuss the broader framework affecting reliable water supplies. In this light, planning, legal and regulatory frameworks, institutional coordination, financial sustainability, and operational aspects should also be communicated.
By Cecilia Tortajada and Sunil Nambiar, 2019. Article published in Water, Volume 11, Issue 2, pages 1-33. DOI: 10.3390/w11020251