Community attitudes and behaviors and the sociopolitics of decision making for urban recycled water schemes

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Title

Urban Water Reuse Handbook


CRC Press

Place of Publication

Boca Raton, USA


Eslamian, Saeid


School of Business and Law




Nancarrow, B., & Syme, G. (2016). Community Attitudes and Behaviors and the Sociopolitics of Decision Making for Urban Recycled Water Schemes. In Eslamian, S. (Ed.). Urban Water Reuse Handbook. Boca Raton, USA: CRC Press.


It has been apparent for decades that communities support the concept of water reuse as a means of responsible water resources management. Reuse of stormwater and wastewater in urban developments for the irrigation of public open space and even private gardens receives little objection from communities. However, reactions from people when the use of recycled water involves close personal contact or ingestion are frequently quite different. Promoters of water recycling schemes have historically lamented the apparent emotive stand taken by communities in deciding if they will drink recycled water. The “yuck factor” has commonly been blamed for community objection to direct or indirect potable schemes. However, until recently, little had been known of how people actually made their decisions to accept or reject schemes or how to manage the “yuck factor.” This chapter discusses the Australian experience in planning and implementing urban reuse schemes with reference to international situations. It describes the psychology of community decision making and suggests that what has been commonly promoted as the key impediment to reuse schemes—community emotion—may not be that simple. The actuality is more complex and involves the relationship among the communities, proponents and regulators of the schemes, and politicians.



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