Urban Recycled Water Programs: Identifying Evaluation Metrics and Understanding Key Organizational Relationships
Year Released: 2014
Type: Scientific Investigation
Funding Partner: Bureau of Reclamation
Total Investment: $120,635.34 (Cash: $81,875.34, In-Kind: $38,760)
Principal Investigator: Katherine Kao Cushing, San Jose State University
By using an interactive online survey of experts this study identified a set of common metrics for understanding the performance of urban recycled water programs. The research also examined major metrics used by four mid-sized case study recycled water programs in California, Arizona, and Florida. Additionally, this research sheds light on the evolving relationship between recycled water program managers and their key stakeholders: regulatory agencies, partner agencies, and customers.
Goals and Objectives
The objectives of this project were to identify, through expert opinion, a set of common metrics for understanding urban recycled water program performance. Four case study programs were evaluated throughout this process resulting in a better understanding of stakeholder relationships that recycled water program managers consider the most influential.
Findings and Conclusions
Out of sixteen potential program evaluation metrics (see table below), the four metrics received that the highest Delphi panel ratings and achieved the highest level of consensus were the program’s contribution to regional water supply portfolio, customer satisfaction, voter support on bonds or other similar ballot items that include a recycled water component, and community support. This study also examined major metrics used by four case studies in California, Arizona, and Florida.
Additionally, this research sheds light on the relationship between recycled water program managers and their regulatory agencies, partner agencies, and customers. Program managers viewed their relationship with regulators as their most important and felt that interactions with regulators were becoming more cooperative and proactive. Two of the four case study program managers identified partner agencies (e.g., adjacent wastewater treatment districts or cities) as very important, citing how the ability to use multiple treatment plants and distribution networks can help with program flexibility and expansion.
Differences in how program managers and customers perceive their motivation for using recycled water may have significant relevance for future development. While program managers think cost is most important, customers identified environmental concern as the main reason they decided to convert from potable to recycled water implying that being “green” may be a necessary condition for recycled water customers.
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