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Residential Identity and Perceptions of Reclaimed Water: A Case Study of Greater Reno-Sparks, Nevada
AuthorRedman, Samantha E.
AdvisorOrmerod, Kerri J.
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This thesis examines the intersection between local identity and reclaimed water preferences in the greater Reno-Sparks area of northern Nevada. This case study uses data from a 2018 survey of residents in a rapidly growing community located in a water scarce region. Specifically, this research explores the relationship between residential identity and willingness to drink potable reclaimed water. Many regions experiencing water scarcity throughout the world have explored the option of reclaiming wastewater to supplement the potable drinking water supplies, which is also known as “potable reuse”. In Nevada, updated regulations in 2017 allow for planned potable reuse. However, past case studies of other unsuccessful attempts to implement a potable reuse projects demonstrate the necessity of public acceptance and understanding their preferences and beliefs surrounding the alternative water resource. Similar surveys have been completed in many other areas to gauge public opinion of reclaimed water for a variety of applications, including drinking water. The innovation of this thesis is twofold. First, this is the first project surveying public perception of reclaimed water in the greater Reno-Sparks area. Second, this is the first known study to analyze the influence of residential identity on perceptions of reclaimed water. Using data from a survey mailed to a sample of residents (n=474) in spring 2018, a mixed method approach is employed to examine if self-identification as a rural, urban, or suburban resident influences reclaimed water preferences and overall water management and resource preferences in the Reno-Sparks area. The findings reveal suburban respondents were significantly more likely to support reclaimed water for a variety of applications, including drinking water.