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Modeling occurrence and assessing public perceptions of de facto wastewater reuse across the USA

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The National Research Council 2011 report lists quantifying the extent of de facto (or unplanned) potable reuse in the U.S. as the top research need associated with assessing the potential

The National Research Council 2011 report lists quantifying the extent of de facto (or unplanned) potable reuse in the U.S. as the top research need associated with assessing the potential for expanding the nations water supply through reuse of municipal wastewater. Efforts to identify the significance and potential health impacts of de facto water reuse are impeded by out dated information regarding the contribution of municipal wastewater effluent to potable water supplies. This project aims to answer this research need. The overall goal of the this project is to quantify the extent of de facto reuse by developing a model that estimates the amount of wastewater effluent that is present within drinking water treatment plants; and to use the model in conjunction with a survey to help assess public perceptions. The four-step approach to accomplish this goal includes: (1) creating a GIS-based model coupled with Python programming; (2) validating the model with field studies by analyzing sucralose as a wastewater tracer; (3) estimating the percentage of wastewater in raw drinking water sources under varying streamflow conditions; (4) and assessing through a social survey the perceptions of the general public relating to acceptance and occurrence of de facto reuse. The resulting De Facto Reuse in our Nations Consumable Supply (DRINCS) Model, estimates that treated municipal wastewater is present at nearly 50% of drinking water treatment plant intake sites serving greater than 10,000 people (N=2,056). Contrary to the high frequency of occurrence, the magnitude of occurrence is relatively low with 50% of impacted intakes yielding less than 1% de facto reuse under average streamflow conditions. Model estimates increase under low flow conditions (modeled by Q95), in several cases treated wastewater makes up 100% of the water supply. De facto reuse occurs at levels that surpass what is publically perceived in the three cities of Atlanta, GA, Philadelphia, PA, and Phoenix, AZ. Respondents with knowledge of de facto reuse occurrence are 10 times more likely to have a high acceptance (greater than 75%) of treated wastewater at their home tap.

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Date Created
  • 2014

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

Description

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.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2016