Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 23


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A GROWING NUMBER OF WATER

AGENCIES AND MUNICIPALITIES HAVE
LEARNED THAT PUBLIC ACCEPTANCE

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is one of the primary challenges facing
this source of water supply. Getting the
customers and other stakeholders on
board is a first, then ongoing step.
Water recycling is very common for
irrigating golf courses, zoos and farms as
well as supplementing industrial purposes
(cooling towers, etc.) but some early
efforts, like the one to develop a potable
reuse project in Los Angeles, were halted
by vocal opposition. Burdened with the
moniker "toilet to tap," LA's $55 million
indirect potable reuse project, one that
coupled a purification plant with a five-year
underground filtration process, was shut
down after a short run by public outcry and
local mayoral politics in 2001. In a 2007
interview1 with the Los Angeles Times, a
Department of Water and Power engineer
explained, "We spent slightly under $1
million per acre foot (of water produced)
before we had to shut it off." This equates
to about $2.75 per gallon, a recognizable
price for bottled water at the corner store
but a stunning amount compared to the
fractions of a penny LA's customers
normally pay for tap water. And this was
for an indirect potable reuse (IPR) project.
Fortunately for those looking to
initiate reuse projects today, many of
the hard lessons learned by those that
have gone before them have been
compiled and distilled into a handy
communications playbook. Published by
the WateReuse Research Foundation
and co-sponsored by the Metropolitan
Water District of Southern California,
the 2015 "Model Communication Plans
for Increasing Awareness and Fostering
Acceptance of Direct Potable Reuse"
(Model Communication Plan) is aimed at
advancing public acceptance of potable
reuse projects by building support and
awareness of existing and planned potable
reuse programs.
One critical element in building the
necessary support to overcome the
so-called "yuck factor" is a written
communication plan. These plans outline
the public outreach needed to engage the
various target audiences who will help to
make or break potable reuse options. The
Model Communication Plan provides easily
customized templates for communications
planning and outreach at both the state

OF DIRECT POTABLE REUSE (DPR) IS
ONE OF THE PRIMARY CHALLENGES
FACING THIS SOURCE OF WATER SUPPLY.
GETTING THE CUSTOMERS AND OTHER
STAKEHOLDERS ON BOARD IS A FIRST,
THEN ONGOING STEP.

and community level. It includes public
outreach strategies, lists, sample text,
social media approaches and messaging
platform components with other outreach
tools and tactics. The model plan is
designed to be tailored to the specific
needs and situations of an individual
community. Anyone looking to embark on
a potable reuse project (IPR or DPR) will
find the menu of options invaluable.
Preparation of the Model
Communication Plan began with extensive
research, starting with a literature review
and continuing with a series of one-on-one
meetings with individuals involved with
potable reuse projects. Interviews were
also conducted with legislators and
special interest groups to learn about
their attitudes toward, perceptions of
and support for potable reuse projects.
Findings from research were then used

to develop a set of communications
messages that were tested in focus
groups and telephone surveys in two
California communities.
The research yielded some important
findings that start with the pitfalls and
public concerns about DPR related to
health and safety. This concern then
translated into the "yuck factor." Other
factors included the sense of choices
among various water supply options,
trust in the utility, knowledge about the
treatment process, environmental justice,
ecological effects, regulations, rates
and costs and population growth. Some
commercial enterprises, for example
Miller Brewing Company, were concerned
about how recycled water might affect
their reputation and brand if consumers
were aware it was producing beer from
reused water.

TABLE 1. THE KEYS TO PUBLIC SUPPORT
Top Ten Keys to Building Public Support*

1. Develop trust (build relationships, offer plant tours)
2. Be consistent with outreach (start early, continue throughout project)
3. Provide information about potable reuse and where it is in use to increase familiarity
4. Be consistent with messaging and terminology
5. Instill confidence in the quality of water (talk about the treatment process)
6. Be transparent (discuss costs, water quality, safety, environment)
7. Be prepared and proactive (expect tough questions and misinformation)
8. Educate from the inside out; groom the entire staff to be project ambassadors
9. Create a positive "brand" or project characterization rather than allowing others to

10.

cement the effort negatively (as happened with toilet to tap)
Use feedback to continuously improve your communication plan

RURAL WATER

23



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016

The Latest Drinking Water Innovations
Potable Reuse of Water: A View from Arizona
Getting the Public on Board with Your Potable Water Reuse Plan
Recapturing Revenue from Water Loss
Water Depletion and the Customer
Boardroom Courtesy
From the President
Finance: Audit Requirements
Technology: The New System that Uses Sound to Alleviate Water Shortage
Emergency Management: Creating a Drought Response Plan
A Day in the Life of a Circuit Rider
Regulatory Update
Throwing My Loop: An Old Familiar Tune
Index to Advertisers/ Advertisers.com
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - cover1
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - cover2
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 3
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 4
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 5
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 6
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 7
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 8
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 9
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 10
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - From the President
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - The Latest Drinking Water Innovations
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 13
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 14
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 15
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 16
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 17
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - Potable Reuse of Water: A View from Arizona
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 19
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 20
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 21
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - Getting the Public on Board with Your Potable Water Reuse Plan
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 23
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 24
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 25
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - Recapturing Revenue from Water Loss
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 27
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 28
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 29
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 30
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - Finance: Audit Requirements
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 32
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 33
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 34
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - Technology: The New System that Uses Sound to Alleviate Water Shortage
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 36
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - Emergency Management: Creating a Drought Response Plan
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 38
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 39
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - A Day in the Life of a Circuit Rider
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 41
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 42
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - Water Depletion and the Customer
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 44
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - Boardroom Courtesy
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 46
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 47
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - Regulatory Update
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 49
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 50
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - Throwing My Loop: An Old Familiar Tune
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 52
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 53
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - Index to Advertisers/ Advertisers.com
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 55
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 56
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 57
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 58
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - cover3
Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - cover4
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