Study of urban population attitudes towards various wastewater reuse options: Israel as a case study

Eran Friedler*, Ori Lahav, Hagar Jizhaki, Tali Lahav

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations

Abstract

This paper summarizes the findings of a survey (256 participants) conducted to determine the attitude of the Israeli urban public towards various urban water reuse options. Israel is known for its long and successful agricultural water reuse scheme, but to date no large-scale urban reuse projects have been implemented. The survey included 21 reuse options, which were clustered into three reuse categories, namely: low, medium, and high contact levels. Results show that a high proportion of the participants supported medium contact reuse options such as sidewalk landscaping (95%), domestic WC flushing (85%) and firefighting (96%). Higher contact reuse options such as domestic laundry (38%), preserved food (13%), and potable aquifer recharge (11%) found much lesser support. Less than expected support was found for low contact reuse options with 86% for field crop irrigation, 62% for aquifer recharge for agricultural irrigation, and as low as 49% for orchard irrigation. This low support is surprising, since all three options have been practiced on a large scale for over three decades in Israel without any adverse effects to the public. No correlation was found between any biographical characteristic examined (education, gender, income, marital status, having young children, and age) and support for medium contact options. For the medium contact options, the results suggest that perceived financial gain (individual and/or communal) and positive public opinion enhances support, while perceived health effects negatively affects the degree of support. Technology, trust in authorities and awareness of water and environmental issues were found to not have a significant effect on support for medium contact reuse options. Analyzing the four possible reasons for support given by participants who identified themselves as supporters of wastewater reuse revealed that the most important reason for support was "water saving", followed by "minimization of importing water from abroad". These were followed by "infrastructure cost saving" together with "environmental improvement".

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)360-370
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Volume81
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2006
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Public awareness
  • Public perception
  • Urban reuse
  • Wastewater reuse

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