Predicting support and likelihood of protest in relation to the use of treated stormwater with managed aquifer recharge for potable and non-potable purposes
Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) of stormwater has been deemed technically feasible in augmenting the total water supplies of the Adelaide region however, a major obstacle to implementation of new water schemes, particularly for potable reuse, can be gaining public acceptance and political support. The present survey of 1043 Adelaide residents addressed factors identified in the literature such as satisfaction with the quality of water, the importance of cost, perceived effectiveness of the recycled water distribution system, perceptions of community acceptance and trust in the water authorities to manage the system. The study compares three options for the use of stormwater through MAR: non-potable use through a third-pipe system, potable use whereby the water from the aquifer is pumped to a reservoir, and potable use whereby locally treated water from the aquifer is pumped into the mains system. Although respondents were positive about the reuse of stormwater via MAR for both potable and non-potable options and the likelihood of protest was less than ten percent, respondents clearly preferred the non-potable to the potable options. The results suggested a need for public education on issues such as the cost of third-pipe systems, the risks associated with the potable option with localised treatment, and the actual rate of community acceptance, which was higher than they believed. However, there was also evidence of psychological bias, which is not easily moved by the provision of information alone.