What Makes People Detest Recycled Water?


As the world climate becomes harsher and human population increases, people and governments are exploring alternative ways to save and reuse water. Some people now realize that they will have to get over the “yuck” factor that has defined response to recycled water globally. Treating sewage water and using it for either commercial or domestic applications has always been controversial, even in places where drought has made matters tough.


What is popular now is “grey” commercial water treatment for irrigation purposes. “Grey” water is the kind that comes from washing machines, bathrooms, and so forth. If matters proceed as they are, people may be forced to turn to sewage as well. It might be time people started questioning their grounds on this issue, as water resources are stretched to the limit in many parts of the world. Here are some reasons some people will still question the suitability of using such water.


Wrong Proposition

If you ask a marketer, how people approach the idea of using recycled water is all wrong. Fundamentally, users are inclined to seek to know the origin of a product before using it. If commercial water treatment facilities want to succeed in marketing the water, then they must solve the questions surrounding the origin of the water.

Pouring water from a bottle into glass

Have you realised how bottled water firms insist on natural sources of their products? That is how crucial this aspect is, even for a naturally occurring substance. Using the term “recycled water” often elicits mixed responses.


Psychology at Work

People are easily disgusted by anything to do with sewage. The deep-seated negative attitude largely remains even after the wastewater has undergone the best technologies and passed quality tests.

Worker in a water treatment facility

Scientists have even gone ahead to call this phenomenon the Wisdom of Repugnance. In a bid to counter this mechanism, water treatment facilities have tried all manner of approaches with mixed results. A popular instance was in Orange County of California. Their approach astounded many, but it was an interesting one. They treated the wastewater to the best standards but did not direct it to the taps. They sent it underground and mixed it with aquifer water. These scientists removed the term "wastewater" from the conversation.


Possible to Stop Wastage

Public attitude and political influence are still difficult areas to navigate, but there is hope that the usage of recycled wastewater will increase in the coming years. Singapore and Israel used fines, incentives and environmental fears to drive the point home.


If the country is to overcome the negativity, then it must do more collaborations, branding and endorsements. The technological capability available must also be brought to the level of the common citizen. People must know that there is thorough removal of contaminants such as suspended solids and nutrients.


Because the resistance towards recycled or treated wastewater is still strong, there may be a need to force stakeholders to take urgent measures. Water engineers are probably at the centre of matters. Governments might need to create the necessary infrastructure to solve the sustainability issue.


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