New Attitudes Needed for Reuse

Material Information

New Attitudes Needed for Reuse
U.S. Water News


Subjects / Keywords:
Water reuse ( jstor )
Water usage ( jstor )
Recycling ( jstor )
Spatial Coverage:
North America -- United States of America -- Florida


U.S. Water News Article September, 1986
General Note:
Box 7, Folder 2 ( Vail Conference 1987 - 1987 ), Item 50
Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.

Record Information

Source Institution:
Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Holding Location:
Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.


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Fresh water Perspective

New attitudes needed for reuse

Public Adceptance of Treated
Wastewater Uses
Watering the lawn
Flushing toilets
Washing cars
Watering the garden
Doing laundry
Taking a bath or shower
Cooking food
Drinking water
0% 25% 50% 75% 100%
Source Off ce of Water Research and Technology

Water reuse: Feasible, yes; but, ac-
In the future, disparities between
the supply of available water and the
needs of growing communities or in-
dustries will increase and begin to
multiply across the United States,
not only in the thirsty Southwest but
also in regions once considered
water-adequate or even water-rich.
As this trend occurs, the demands
for reuse will increase, and the con-
cept will become more acceptable
and even popular. But, between now
and universal acceptance of
"reused" water, there will be a need
for new attitudes, new technology
and new inct-lives.
It will be ncet'sary to understand
and renivembr that any natural wa-
ter supply beconims the ultimate
storage tank for elements that are
potentially harmful to the consumer,
including bacteria, carcinogens, and
toxins. Water reclamation technol-
ogy must ensure that these elements
are not recycled with the water sup-
ply, rendering it harmful or unus-
Using large volumes of water
during times of shortage carries with
it the social stigma of being a water
houg or "bad guy." Water recycling or
reuse will be a water-saving tech-
nique and will need to be perceived
as a "good guy" activity, regardless
of volume used.
Impending increases in the value
of water and limitations on volumes
available for use will create incen-
tive. for recycling and reusing wa-
ter. That is a good trend. It is
important, therefore, that the tech-
nology used to assure safe. usable,
acceptable reclaimed water does not
create a cost that exceeds the value
of the product to be generated

through the use of the water supply.
Some new technologies, perhaps
based upon biological control of syn-
thetic materials, will be needed to
assure a "reuse economic balance."
Regardless of the viability of the
technology used, the economic incen-
tive available and the assurance of
absence of threat to health, the final
water product provided through
reuse will have to be of an acceptable
nature to the general public.
From the water manager's stand-
point, there are at least four classifi-
cations of water for the user public:
pristine, safe, usable, and accept-
"Pristine" is the perceived condi-
tion of the great northern and Cana-
dian lakes used primarily for
recreation. "Safe" usually means
that the supply is drinkable and
meets minimum federal standards
set for a drinking water supply. "Us-
able" means there is some use for a
supply that is acceptable to regulat-
ing agencies. "Acceptable" means
the water supply is in a condition
that is approved by the general con-
sumer, the user public. "Acceptable"
is purely attitudinal and subject to
short-term variances. A water sup-
ply can meet all or most of the first
three categories and yet, because of
taste, odor, or tradition, it may not
be acceptable to the consumer.
The challenge and the frustra-
tion of current water managers is
that no one today, perhaps for the
first time in our history, can assure
an acceptable water supply 5 to 10
years in the future.
Attitudes and acceptability may be
the greatest challenge of our future
plans and needs for water reuse. It's
not too early to begin working on at-
titude adjustments.