Report

Science and the public's perception of water recycling

20 May 2007
Description

Public perceptions of innovative science and technology are often cast aside as misguided ideas that need changing. This research has focused on recycling water for various household and public uses. Public opinion is usually seen as an impediment, a seemingly insurmountable hurdle that can only be overcome through a clever marketing campaign.

In fact, science itself proves that the public are not generally opposed to recycling water. The social science designed and managed surveys in the USA in the '70s and '80s, more recent case studies in Australia, and the Flinders University Sociology Department national survey of capital city dwellers, confirms very high acceptance for a number of applications. Water recycling has been implemented in Australia for the irrigation of golf courses, public parks, playing fields and, more recently, agriculture, including pastures, vegetables and fruit. Over 85% of Australians say they have experienced or are aware of this type of water recycling. And their perception is that it is OK. The irrigation of golf courses and parks, and flushing of public toilets, is favoured by over 90%; from 70% to 90% support applications for commercial laundries and irrigation within the food chain.

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2007
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