The notion of reused water can evoke negative images. When further complicated by the public's lack of understanding of the water cycle, coupled with a widespread skepticism and distrust of technology, a much needed water supply strategy can easily become doomed.
Much of the attitudinal landscape is beyond the control of water managers but the problem can be exacerbated by the vocabulary and images typically used to define water and wastewater treatment. The compartmentalization of water supply and wastewater treatment into different organizations has resulted in poor understanding of water cycle management which has a particularly negative impact on water reuse, which is made to sound unusual - and people have a tendency to fear things that are out of the ordinary and seemingly strange. The water industry has also disproportionately focused on the history of the water rather than its treatment and ultimate safety for its intended use.
This presentation describes an approach to work through these issues in a manner that encompasses rational thought as well as emotion and feelings and shows that when the general public are given the opportunity to reframe their understanding of water and to have a more realistic view of water quality, they are drawn to different conclusions. If a lack of knowledge by the public about water is the single largest barrier to sustainable water management, then it is essential we do a better job of using language and imagery to create a deeper understanding of the water cycle and water treatment.