Architecture and Planning ETDs

Publication Date

Fall 8-31-2018


In New Mexico and much of the American Southwest, ensuring clean, reliable, and sustainable drinking water supplies is one of the most significant planning challenges. One option to create more diverse and reliable water supplies is potable water reuse. There are two types of potable water reuse: indirect and direct potable reuse (IPR and DPR). Planned potable water reuse has not been widely implemented, largely due to negative public perceptions. This research involves the design and implementation of a large-scale survey administered to a sample of 4,000 water utility customers in Albuquerque, NM, to examine public acceptance of potable water reuse and whether different types of educational materials have an effect on acceptance. The survey response rate was 46% (n=1831). Fifty-four percent of respondents were willing to accept IPR, compared to 47% for DPR. The educational materials were found to have a non-trivial positive effect on predicted acceptance, though not statistically significant. Other survey questions examined trust in various entities, water habits at home, and opinions on topics related to water scarcity and climate change. Compared to previous water reuse surveys conducted on coastal populations, Albuquerque residents placed their trust in similar entities, but appeared to be more aware of water shortage and conservation, and generally more accepting of potable water reuse. Water managers may be interested in the results of this research when considering public outreach and education programs related to potable water reuse, the feasibility of reuse for their communities, and/or conducting a public acceptance survey themselves.

Project Sponsors

National Science Foundation (award 1345169)



Document Type


Degree Name

Community and Regional Planning

Second Degree

Water Resources

Level of Degree


Department Name

School of Architecture and Planning

First Committee Member (Chair)

Caroline Scruggs

Second Committee Member

John Fleck

Third Committee Member

Andrew Schuler


potable reuse, survey, public perception, community acceptance, semi arid