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Keywords:

  • Middle-East;
  • reclaimed water;
  • semi-structured interviews;
  • treated wastewater reuse;
  • water management

Treated wastewater or reclaimed water is gaining recognition as a valuable water resource around the world. To assess why, where and how water reuse takes place in Jordan, semi-structured interviews were conducted with representatives of 29 key organisations in 2008. The analysis reveals that water scarcity is a key driver for water reuse. However, despite such recognition, reuse was described positively by only a small proportion of the interviewees (n = 6). Negative and neutral perceptions regarding reuse dominated and the research found that this was related to two underlying challenges: (i) the requirement for more intensive management when using reclaimed water compared with freshwater and (ii) concern over societal acceptance of water reuse. These factors were found to be associated with the risks posed to humans and their environments, combined with negative emotional and cultural responses to human waste and its applications. Numerous strategies are identified that are employed by organisations to overcome these challenges. Wastewater treatment, regulation, monitoring, the mixing of treated effluent with freshwater and limited public discussion of water reuse are all employed to achieve maximum use of reclaimed water. Each strategy presents benefits of sort, but some may paradoxically also inhibit optimal use of reclaimed water. Careful modifications to the existing strategies of Jordanian agencies, such as more open discussion of reuse, could lead to greater social, economic and environmental gains.