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New Tools for Urban Water Management: Consumer Views and Acceptance of Reclaimed Water

Congress: 2008
Author(s): Vic Adamowicz, Alan Krupnick
Adamowicz - Department of Rural Economy, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 2H1. Dupont, D. P. - Department of Economics, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, L2S 3A1. (contact author) Krupnick - Senior Fellow and Director, Quality of

Keyword(s): reclaimed water, risk perception, management
AbstractIntroduction Canada is fortunate to have relatively abundant supplies of good quality water overall, however, some regions experience drought periods on a fairly regular basis while others have had episodes requiring that they boil their tap water prior to using it. Regions of the world where water supplies are more scarce have already adopted a number of approaches to use their scarce water resources more efficiently through water reclamation, reuse and recycling. However, such intensification of use is often viewed by consumers with fear. It is important to have information from Canadian consumers about their preferences and concerns with respect to a more intensive use of water. Objective, Methods, Results This paper reports on results from a series of focus group discussions that are currently taking place in Canada. Results from the focus groups are providing three important outputs. The first is the extent to which the typical Canadian is aware of water reclamations efforts in his/her community and, if yes, to obtain information about the experiences/views that individual has had and the degree of acceptance of such projects. If the individual has had no experience with actual water reclamation projects, then facilitator of the focus group will solicit views and degree of potential acceptance of different types of reuse projects. An important feature of this part of the discussion is to elicit any sensitivity of responses to the way in which projects are described, including the wording used (e.g., repurified water as opposed to reclaimed water). The second output is which attributes are considered important in a consumerís decisions regarding his/her communityís water supply, e.g., reliability of supply, water bill, different types of health risks, quality of source of water, type of treatment used. hierarchy ladder showing relative acceptability of different types of water reuse projects (from non-potable through indirect potable to direct potable end use). The third output is the development of a tool to elicit a respondentís baseline subjective probability of becoming ill from the use of reclaimed water. This tool involves the use of both numerical and the visual approaches. Conclusions The overarching outcome from this project is the ability to fill key gaps in our knowledge about the relationship between health risk perceptions held by consumers and their resulting water supply choices and valuation of scarce water resources. This is accomplished by 1) focusing upon consumer health risk concerns and linking them to acceptance of new technologies for the provision of water supplies and 2) preparing the ground work needed to facilitate the management of Canadaís scarce water resources over the longer term horizon of ten to twenty years by taking a whole water cycle management approach to the issue of demand side management.
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