Public perceptions and perspectives on alternative sources of water for reuse generated at the household level

Research by Prof. Michelle Portman and Olga Vadov
Studying perceptions about reuse of alternative water sources informs about conditions necessary for transition to large-scale decentralized water reuse. We administered a perceptions survey to the public based on results of initial open interviews of water management experts in Israel. Experts indicated their views on impediments to widespread household water reuse which became the basis for developing the questionnaire. The latter aimed to understand views among the general public of: (a) willingness to adopt reuse practices from three sources: greywater, air conditioner condensate and roof-harvested rainwater; and (b) preferences for targeted use of these three types of reused water. The survey elicited 372 responses. A maximum-likelihood regression analysis was conducted using independent variables (i.e., demographic characteristics, individual positions regarding the state of the country's water resources and plans for the provision of domestic water (i.e., desalination), knowledge of the reuse practices and views about risks from various uses of the reused water, including off-premise). Willingness to implement reuse practices served as the dependent variable. We found that respondents indicating that they heard of the reuse of the particular types of reuse practices (variable: ‘Knowledge’) was the most significant of the independent variables for all three alternative water sources. Also, using an analytic hierarchy process, we determined that health risks were much more important when compared to convenience of use and costs under hypothetical scenarios of both moderate and significant savings in monthly water expenditures.
Olga Vdov
Michelle Portman