Recycled water gains acceptance

Community attitudes towards recycled water are undergoing a massive change for the better, according to a new University of Melbourne report commissioned by the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Quality and Treatment.

Respondents to the Adelaide study showed an increase in the acceptance of Class A+ recycled water for drinking, up to 58 per cent from 4 per cent, while the majority (94 per cent) were satisfied with overall recycled water use at Mawson Lakes, up from 88 per cent in 2005.

Completed by Dr Anna Hurlimann, the study surveyed 269 members of the Mawson Lakes community in Adelaide on their attitudes towards recycled water use.

It was the second study to be completed since the introduction of recycled water at Mawson Lakes for non-drinking purposes - such as garden watering and toilet flushing - through a purpose built 'dual water supply system' in 2005.

“The aim of this specific project was to further test community attitudes to recycled water use – and importantly, after the use of recycled water had been occurring for two years”, says Dr Hurlimann.

Other key findings of the study include:

  • An increase in the acceptance of Class A+ recycled water for clothes washing (up to 74 per cent from 23 per cent two years ago) 
  • A significant decrease in the perception of risk associated with recycled water for all uses, from car washing and garden watering to showering and drinking
  • A significant increase in the perceived value of what recycled water should cost, from A$0.46 in 2004 to A$0.89 in 2007.

Dr Hurlimann says the research is important given the increasing pressure on water resourced experienced in many areas of the world. “Policy makers are increasingly turning to other water alternatives such as desalination often assuming that the public will not be willing to use recycled water.

“Such assumptions are often not based on evidence.”

"More consultation with the community is required regarding water futures in Australia."

Editor's Note: Original news release can be found here.