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Newspaper Coverage of Potable Water Recycling at Orange County Water District's Groundwater Replenishment System, 2000-2016
Water planners in water-strapped communities in the western United States and beyond increasingly consider potable water recycling an important water management strategy. Although potable water recycling can increase an otherwise limited urban water supply, the threat of public or political opposition often looms large. This paper examines newspaper coverage of the most widely celebrated potable water reuse project in the worldthe Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) in Orange County, California, USA. The case study examines the coverage of GWRS contained in local, national, and international newspapers during an era of significant investment and repeated expansion. Despite the potential controversy associated with drinking recycled wastewater, there was no negative newspaper coverage of GWRS from 2000-2016. Much of the coverage was mundane, however several articles embraced infrastructure and technology as key to developing new water resources while protecting public and environmental health. Although potable water recycling is presented as an innovative solution capable of solving several problems at once, a close analysis reveals that recycled water may not fulfill the promise of an uninterruptible urban water supply.