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Suitability Of Wastewater For Irrigation In Saudi Arabia: Analysis Of Public Perceptions And Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment

Congress: 2015
Author(s): Abed Alataway (Riyadh, South Africa), John Gowing, Paul Sallis, Mitchell Ness
Newcastle University 1

Keyword(s): Sub-theme 13: Non-conventional sources of water,
AbstractWastewater reuse for irrigated practice is an alternative solution in which food production can be improved especially in the arid-region where freshwater resources are often limited However; the potential public health risk associated with wastewater reuse remain a major concern, as well as public perceptions towards wastewater. This research was conducted in two main agricultural cities within the Saudi Arabia, namely Al-Hassa having experience of unrestricted irrigation project and Tabouk where wastewater reuse project has not been developed. The study aimed at quantifying microbial risks through standard QMRA methodology as well as assessing the perceived risks from public and their acceptability of wastewater uses. Using helminth eggs and Escherichia coli as indicators, QMRA results showed that the microbial concentrations exceeded the levels permissible under Saudi standards yet based on QMRA-MC simulations, vegetables produced with unrestricted irrigation of wastewater were safe for human consumption after washing and traditional treatment with lemon and vinegar in line with WHO 2006 guidelines. The public perceptions based on Likert scale ratings of 493 farmers and 377 consumers showed that familiarity with wastewater reuse reduced the level of concerns leading to greater acceptability of proposed uses. The degree of acceptability moved on a continuum with high approval for outdoor applications on one end and high rejection of uses involving personal contact and hygiene. A set of policy recommendations aimed at increasing the use of wastewater in Saudi Arabia has been put forward emphasizing the need to progress on short to medium and long-term activities concurrently through coordination between key players and stakeholders.
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