Home\Educate\Water Reuse 101\Research Projects\Year\2011\Guidance on Links Between Water Reclamation and Reuse and Regional Growth

Guidance on Links Between Water Reclamation and Reuse and Regional Growth

Project: 06-16
Type: White Paper
Year Released: 2011

Program: Principal
Funding Partner: Bureau of Reclamation,
Total Investment: $103,113.30 (Cash: $74,277.02, In-Kind: $28,836.28)

Principal Investigator: Christopher A. Scott, Ph.D., PE, University of Arizona


Water reclamation and reuse expand in tandem with regional growth, yet the specific links between the two processes are not well understood Urban growth is a global phenomenon resulting from a complex mix of expanding populations, demographic shifts, economic development, and political processes that increasingly respond to urban electoral constituents. In this context, water reuse presents major opportunities for water savings and environmental conservation more generally, as well as reduced cost compared to alternative sources. At the same time, expanding reuse must confront decision-making obstacles most commonly related to public perception and technology and infrastructure investment needs.

Goals and Objectives

The project determines the challenges to sustainable water reuse and characterize public attitudes toward reclaimed water use in rapidly growing cities and towns practicing reuse and/or considering expanding reclaimed water use with emphasis on Arizona.

Research Approach

This study investigated the mutual influences between water reuse and growth. Primary focus was given to emerging water reuse experiences in the state of Arizona for three principal reasons: (1) the state is experiencing among the fastest rates of growth in the country; (2) water reuse in Arizona is not well documented when compared with other states innovating with reuse in the context of growth, for example, California or Florida; and (3) Arizona’s need to pursue water reuse as a supply-substituting practice is driven by acute water scarcity combined with climate change and variability in a manner not found elsewhere.

Findings and Conclusions

This report summarizes three central components of the project. First, the team assessed relevant experience with reuse programs nationally in the context of growth by reviewing published literature, technical reports, and associated documents available over the Internet. Additional information collected at a May 2010 project workshop is synthesized with the literature review. Water reuse remains largely a supply augmentation strategy, given the growth imperative, and only where regulations require groundwater sustainability is reuse viewed as a means to substitute existing uses. Second, the team investigated public perceptions of water reuse, growth, regulations, and decision making via a questionnaire survey mailed to respondents in communities across the state of Arizona. Results of the statistical analyses indicate that perceptions of the desirability of growth influence respondents’ views on the acceptability of reclaimed water for various uses. Third, the project considered the priorities and constraints for reuse and growth faced by water and reclaimed water managers and by decision makers in local and state agencies in Arizona.

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