Californians support wastewater recycling as remedy for drought

The five-year-long drought plaguing California may open new opportunities for water and wastewater equipment manufacturers as residents vouch for recycling water, a new study finds.

California residents are overwhelmingly supportive of using treated wastewater, or recycled water, in their everyday lives, according to a statewide survey conducted by pump maker Xylem.

The survey found that 76% of respondents believe recycled water should be used as a long-term solution for managing water resources, regardless of whether or not a water shortage continues. 

Nearly half, or 49%, of respondents are very supportive of using recycled water as an additional local water supply and another 38% are somewhat supportive.

The survey defined recycled water as former wastewater that has been treated and purified so that it can be reused for drinking purposes.

Of survey respondents, 42% are very willing to use recycled water in their everyday lives and an additional 41% are somewhat willing.

These findings confirm that there is a significant number of Californians who support the use of recycled water.

“We conducted this survey in an effort to better understand public perception about recycled water, and are very encouraged by the findings,” said Joseph Vesey, senior VP at Xylem North America

“With overwhelming support from the public, California is well-positioned to lead the US in accelerating the availability and acceptance of recycled water.”

According to Vesey, the state has the opportunity to champion a flexible framework that recognises the unique needs of local communities as they work to establish water resource strategies that include sustainable solutions such as recycled water.

The findings further state that 89% of residents are more willing to use recycled water after reading an educational statement explaining the treatment processes that recycled wastewater undergoes to become safe and drinkable again.

Further, 88% agree that seeing a demonstration of the water purification process would make them more comfortable using and drinking recycled water.

Californians do not view the use of recycled water as a short-term fix to the state’s five-year drought.

Eighty-eight percent of California residents agree that even if El Niño brings increased rainfall to California, the state should continue to invest in the use of recycled water for drinking purposes.

In fact, if El Niño brings the expected rainfall to California, only 12% of respondents say it would cause them to be less concerned about saving water.

The survey also found that terminology plays a role in the level of public acceptance for the use of recycled water.

When reused water was referred to as “purified water,” respondents were more likely to be supportive (90%) of it as an additional local water supply than when the term “recycled water” (87%) or “reclaimed water” (82%) was used. 

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