Water reuse technologies may alleviate the water scarcity problems that affect many world regions, but their adoption is still limited. In particular, key actors in the adoption of water reuse technologies are water utilities, that provide both urban water and wastewater treatment services. Water utilities are embedded in the urban water system, which includes several stakeholders (urban water users, citizens at large, the environment) that may drive or pose barriers to water reuse adoption. Therefore, to ensure a smooth introduction of water reuse technologies, it is fundamental to understand how water reuse interacts with the existing urban water system and impacts its stakeholders. This paper contributes to the ongoing debate on water reuse by conceptualizing the interaction between water reuse technologies and the urban water system and its stakeholders, and addressing the adoption decision of water utilities by assessing its economic and environmental consequences. Based on a review of literature, policy and other secondary documents, and on primary data coming from interviews with experts from a water utility operating in Southern Italy, the study models the utility's response to a shift from urban to reuse water. It then simulates how reuse water introduction impacts on the utility and other stakeholders of the water system, under various regulatory and operational scenarios defined through a thorough analysis of policy documents and literature. Results show that the adoption of water reuse reduces the utility's margin by cannibalizing urban water demand, but appropriate policy measures may enhance the economic sustainability of reuse. System-level performances, such as impact on freshwater savings, costs for users, effects on the public budget, are also assessed, showing how different regulatory options moderate the intensity of impacts for the different stakeholders of the water system. Furthermore, the adoption of reuse water by the most distant users is found to enhance the economic sustainability of reuse and positively impact the utility's margin.

Adoption of water reuse technologies: An assessment under different regulatory and operational scenarios

E. Cagno;P. Garrone;M. Negri;A. Rizzuni
2022-01-01

Abstract

Water reuse technologies may alleviate the water scarcity problems that affect many world regions, but their adoption is still limited. In particular, key actors in the adoption of water reuse technologies are water utilities, that provide both urban water and wastewater treatment services. Water utilities are embedded in the urban water system, which includes several stakeholders (urban water users, citizens at large, the environment) that may drive or pose barriers to water reuse adoption. Therefore, to ensure a smooth introduction of water reuse technologies, it is fundamental to understand how water reuse interacts with the existing urban water system and impacts its stakeholders. This paper contributes to the ongoing debate on water reuse by conceptualizing the interaction between water reuse technologies and the urban water system and its stakeholders, and addressing the adoption decision of water utilities by assessing its economic and environmental consequences. Based on a review of literature, policy and other secondary documents, and on primary data coming from interviews with experts from a water utility operating in Southern Italy, the study models the utility's response to a shift from urban to reuse water. It then simulates how reuse water introduction impacts on the utility and other stakeholders of the water system, under various regulatory and operational scenarios defined through a thorough analysis of policy documents and literature. Results show that the adoption of water reuse reduces the utility's margin by cannibalizing urban water demand, but appropriate policy measures may enhance the economic sustainability of reuse. System-level performances, such as impact on freshwater savings, costs for users, effects on the public budget, are also assessed, showing how different regulatory options moderate the intensity of impacts for the different stakeholders of the water system. Furthermore, the adoption of reuse water by the most distant users is found to enhance the economic sustainability of reuse and positively impact the utility's margin.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11311/1218847
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