Cross-cultural threats to water supplies and future approaches for water management

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The worldwide supply of potable fresh water is ever decreasing. While 2.5% of Earth's water is fresh, only 1% is accessible. Of this water, the World Health Organization estimates that

The worldwide supply of potable fresh water is ever decreasing. While 2.5% of Earth's water is fresh, only 1% is accessible. Of this water, the World Health Organization estimates that only one-third can be used to meet our daily needs while the other two-thirds are unusable due to contamination. As the world population continues to grow and climate change reduces water security, we must consider not only solutions, but evaluate the perceptions and reactions of individuals in order to successfully implement such solutions. To that end, the goal of this dissertation is to explore human attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors around water issues by conducting cross-cultural comparisons of (1) water risks and solutions, (2) wastewater knowledge and acceptance, and (3) motivators for willingness to use treated wastewater. Previous research in these domains has primarily focused on a single site or national context. While such research is valuable for establishing how and why cultural context matters, comparative studies are also needed to help link perceptions at local and global scales. Adopting an interdisciplinary approach grounded in anthropological methods and theory, I use interview data collected in a range of international sites as part of the Arizona State University's Global Ethnohydrology Study. With funding from National Science Foundation grants to the Decision Center for a Desert City (DCDC) and the Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research project (CAP LTER), this dissertation explores cross-cultural perceptions of water threats and management strategies, specifically wastewater reclamation and reuse, in order to make recommendations for policy makers and water managers.