August 31, 2019
Water stress is an increasing burden in regions with arid climates, aquifer vulnerability, and erratic rainfall. Population growth and competing domestic, industrial, and agricultural uses are also stretching the capacity of water supply systems. Beyond groundwater extraction, surface water overuse, and inter-basin transfers, governments are exploring alternative sources amidst looming supply threats. These alternatives include desalination, greywater recycling, and reclaimed or recycled wastewater. The latter, also known as water reuse with varying levels of treatment, has been applied for irrigation, street cleaning, industrial processes, and groundwater recharge. However, reused water for potable purposes has seen limited uptake, due in part to lack of public acceptance. This article examines the dynamics of public acceptance for potable water reuse. The article’s theoretical contribution is a formal mathematical model for understanding public acceptance of water reuse. The model conceptualizes how governments, water utilities and the public interact to facilitate or hinder acceptance of water supply sources, including potable reuse. The article concludes by applying the model to cases of water reuse in Windhoek, Namibia, and Singapore.