Common sense principles governing potable water recycling in the southwestern US: Examining subjectivity of water stewards using Q methodology
Abstract The potential to supplement potable water supplies with highly treated municipal wastewater, or sewage, is of increasing interest to water planners in many parts of the world. Most of the current social science focuses on public acceptance, however there is a relative lack of research that explores the subjectivity of people who are involved with water recycling or water planning. This study draws on Gramscian theories of governance and Q Methodology to analyze common sense principles that are held by water stewards who currently govern potable water reuse in the southwestern United States. Two competing perspectives emerged from the analyses, which I label neosanitarian and ecosanitarian. Drawing upon tenets established in the Progressive Era, neosanitarians believe that use of recycled water is an appropriate way to expand urban drinking water supplies. Drawing upon tenets established in ecology, ecosanitarians are not opposed to potable water recycling, however they are also interested in radical alternatives to the sanitary status quo. For example, neosanitarians favor advanced wastewater treatment, while ecosanitarians prefer composting toilets and preventative actions. Differences between the common sense views pivot on ideas about the most appropriate technology but also reflect contested visions of ideal society. Highlights This study combines Gramscian theories of governance and Q Methodology. Two separate common sense views related to potable water reuse were found. Both common sense views support indirect potable water reuse in the southwestern US. One common sense supports direct potable reuse but not composting toilets. The alternative view supports composting toilets but not direct potable reuse.
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