WateReuse releases how-to guide for building acceptance of potable reuse
The WateReuse Research Foundation recently announced that it has released a how-to guide for building support for potable reuse on the statewide and community level.
Jan. 27, 2015 -- The WateReuse Research Foundation, a non-profit water reuse research organization, recently announced that it has released a how-to guide for building support for potable reuse (PR) on the statewide and community level.
Titled "Model Communication Plans for Increasing Awareness and Fostering Acceptance of Direct Potable Reuse (WRRF-13-02)," the publication provides a roadmap for advancing public acceptance of PR projects by establishing support and awareness of existing and planned PR programs and by fostering an understanding of the great need to continue to expand water supply sources.
This resource provides those involved with planning a PR project with a catalog of promising and proven methods and messages for advancing the process. A combination of literature review, face-to-face meetings and public opinion research indicated that public acceptance of PR can be achieved by implementing a coordinated, consistent and transparent communication plan.
"We know that potable reuse projects use safe and proven technology, but how a project sponsor engages the community is critical to the success of a project," said WateReuse Executive Director Melissa Meeker. "These model communication plans are extremely important."
This project is the first of a two-phase approach toward fostering acceptance of PR. To develop the communication plans for the first phase, a team led by Mark Millan of Data Instincts, Patricia A. Tennyson of Katz & Associates and Shane Snyder of the University of Arizona first conducted an extensive literature review of previous research related to PR acceptance and attempted approaches at communication. Next, a series of one-on-one meetings was held with legislators, special interest groups and individuals involved with PR projects in their communities.
The findings from the literature review and interviews were used to develop a set of messages that were then tested in focus groups and in telephone surveys in two communities. A key finding from these approaches showed that after receiving additional information about PR and the multi-stage treatment process used to make the water safe to drink, most participants became more comfortable with the idea of it.
"This has been an incredibly robust research effort involving scores of people with various disciplines," Millan said. "The good news is that communication plans developed will be useful for any potable reuse project, whether indirect or direct, large or small."
Completion of the model communication plans provides the strategic groundwork for Phase II of the WateReuse approach to fostering public acceptance of PR. Phase II will take the information gleaned from Phase I and use it to begin creating and refining outreach materials and methods. Phase I drew the outline of the plans, and Phase II will create the tools that can be used immediately at the statewide level and in local communities that are considering direct potable reuse.
This project was funded by the WateReuse Research Foundation in cooperation with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
About the WateReuse Association
The WateReuse Association works to advance the beneficial and efficient uses of high-quality, locally produced, sustainable water sources. It was formed in December 1990 as a state association in California. Today, the WateReuse Association has grown to include more than 400 organizational members in the United States and around the world. The Association convenes conferences and events, produces publications, sponsors legislation in Washington, DC and in California, and has been successful in obtaining substantial federal funding for the WateReuse Research Foundation. For more information, visit www.watereuse.org/association.