Public perception of water re-use: building trust in alternative water sources in Malmesbury, South Africa
Keywords:water scarcity, drought, recycled water, trust, public perceptions, water sustainability
The recent drought in the Western Cape Province in South Africa has been marked as the worst since 1904. The drought impacted severely on the availability of bulk water supply in many parts of the Western Cape Province, particularly the Cape Town Metro and surrounding districts. In order to alleviate water scarcity, wastewater recycling (water reuse) has been identified to have the potential to augment water supplies in the province. This paper argues that although water recycling has the potential to contribute towards alleviating water scarcity, studies have shown that public perceptions greatly influence the outcome of any water recycling scheme. The study collected data using face-to-face interviews, focus group discussions, and the application of the Story with a Gap participatory exercise. One of the key findings is that residents have to trust the municipal competencies and systems, and this can be achieved through meaningful engagement between the municipality and residents. We argue that rolling out a water reuse scheme by starting with affluent areas increases the likelihood of acceptance among low-income communities.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Germaine Owen, Horman Chitonge
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