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Illuminating elimination: public perception and the production of potable water reuse

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Given the scope of water and sanitation challenges posed by climate change and continued urbanization, potable water recycling is gaining traction as a means to expand urban water supply and decrease wastewater disposal into waterways. No longer regarded as a system by‐product without value, planners increasingly consider wastewater a displaced resource in need of recirculation. The literature suggests that public perception and institutional barriers are the limiting factors to greater recapture and reuse of wastewater. Implicitly accepting water recycling as a sustainable alternative, much of the research is aimed at overcoming public opposition. However, the trend toward potable water recycling disrupts the normally hidden processes of urban water delivery, treatment, and disposal. In doing so, it provides a rare opportunity to contemplate taken‐for‐granted technologies of waterborne sanitation and to recognize alternative modes of managing human excrement, including composting toilets and dry sanitation. WIREs Water 2016, 3:537–547. doi: 10.1002/wat2.1149 This article is categorized under: Engineering Water > Planning Water Human Water > Water as Imagined and Represented

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