Direct potable water recycling in Texas: case studies and policy implications

Julia Wester, Kenneth Broad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Direct potable water recycling (DPR) is increasingly recognized as an important strategy in the face of water shortage. DPR often is challenged by a lack of public support and in some cases has been overturned by public opposition alone. Severe drought in Texas in recent years has resulted in several cities in that state considering and passing DPR policies for the first time in the United States. We present three case studies–two from cities that passed and implemented DPR policies and one that considered and ultimately tabled a DPR plan. We use multiple data sources including public surveys and policy maker interviews, newspaper articles, and city meeting minutes to examine the discourse on these policies in public, media, and political spheres. Importantly, we explore the connection between regulatory, structural, environmental, political, and communication factors in each case as they intersect with public attitudes, including expressions of disgust and perceived risk which have featured in experimental research on perceptions of water recycling. By exploring these factors holistically, we are able to examine some of the ways these public attitudinal factors interact in real-world contexts with implications for future policy making and studies of local decision-making under uncertainty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)66-83
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Environmental Policy and Planning
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021


  • Water reuse
  • decision making
  • public attitudes
  • water policy
  • water recycling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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