Public acceptability is widely acknowledged as a key factor in the success of indirect potable water reuse (IPR) schemes. Social research has provided useful insights into the factors that influence public attitudes to IPR and guidelines for engaging the public. Recent IPR developments in Australia demonstrate that clear democratic processes for decision making are yet to be devised. The distinction between technology and society which underpins work in this field does not adequately reflect the nature of IPR and limits possibilities for more robust decision making processes. IPR is not simply a technology to be accepted or rejected by society. IPR is a complex socio-technology which cannot exist unless its technologies become embedded in social, institutional, infrastructural and ecological networks. Reconsidering IPR as a complex socio-technology provides a new grounding for devising processes and institutions for decision making. Based on the formulations of Bruno Latour for bringing the sciences into democracy such processes will include four main tasks: 1) Perplexity—identifying propositions to be taken into account; 2) Consultation—evaluating the strength of the propositions; 3) Hierarchy—ordering the propositions into relative merit and importance; and 4) Institution—stabilising the outcomes through appropriate institutions.
The socio-technology of indirect potable water reuse
Sarah Bell, Victoria Aitken; The socio-technology of indirect potable water reuse. Water Supply 1 October 2008; 8 (4): 441–448. doi: https://doi.org/10.2166/ws.2008.104
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