UQ Business School Professor talks recycled water

17 April 2015

Trendy California is going for it, but recycled water still won’t wash in Queensland, and a University of Queensland researcher is warning that we need to stop being squeamish about drinking treated water.
Research by UQ Business School Professor Sara Dolnicar shows that Queenslanders are happy to spend millions of dollars on bottled water, but the idea of drinking recycled water is still too hard to swallow.

UQ environmental sciences
UQ trying to rid the “yuck” factor from recycled water

“Recycled water has an image problem that we need to change if Queensland is to thrive,” Professor Dolnicar said.
“Campaigners exploiting the ‘yuck’ factor put a stop to recycled water in Toowoomba many years ago, but they offered no alternative to support water security.”
Professor Dolnicar’s research investigates why Australians views some water sources, such as bottled water or rainwater, favourably but don’t like others, such as recycled water.
“Most of the state is in the grip of drought, and now is the time for a new and honest debate about alternative water sources,” the UQ Business School professor said.
“Using recycled water won’t break the drought but it will make our scarce resources go further.
“For example, Mackay is converting ninety per cent of the city’s waste into irrigation-quality water for cane farmers and California has just invested one billion dollars into water recycling plants.”
The United Nations has warned that only 60 per cent of the world’s water needs will be met by 2030.
About Professor Dolnicar
One of Professor Dolnicar’s research interests includes studying water from alternative sources. The use of alternative water sources is inevitable for Australia’s sustainable water future; however, previous experience has shown that public resistance represents the biggest hurdle in the successful implementation of alternative water schemes. Professor Dolnicar’s research with colleagues aims to understand the mechanisms leading to public acceptance of alternative water sources, in particular the role of knowledge and information. This research contributes to public acceptance research by determining whether knowledge reduces fears about alternative water sources and by developing and testing alternative formats of public information campaigns.

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Program: Master of Integrated Water Management
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