Risk-Yuck Factor Nexus in Reclaimed Wastewater for Irrigation: Comparing Farmers’ Attitudes and Public Perception

The successes and failures of water reuse schemes are shaped by complex interrelationships between technological, economic, and socio-political factors. However, it has long been recognized that the main challenges to more effective water management are largely social rather than technical. This article reviews the recent literature (2007–2017) to analyze driving factors associated with farmers’ concerns and public perception of reclaimed wastewater for irrigation. The aim of the paper is to synthetize how both environmental and health risks and the yuck factor could be addressed in order to promote mutual understanding between farmers and the public. Results show: (1) how farmers and the public perceive environmental and health risks in a similar way, (2) how the yuck factor is more noticeable for the public than farmers, and (3) how constructed wetlands, reclaimed water exchange consortiums, product certification, and direct site visits to water reuse infrastructure could be promoted in order to foster understanding between farmers and the public. The article concludes by providing key research questions for managers and public authorities relating to how to focus on the study of technical and social issues related to water reuse ​
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