Americans Support More Waste Water Reuse, GE Survey Shows

The majority of Americans polled support re-using water to help protect the environment and stem scarcity issues forecast for 36 U.S. states next year, according to a General Electric Co. consumer survey.

Two-thirds of Americans are positive about water reuse for activities that require significant amounts of non-drinking water such as crop irrigation, washing cars and landscaping, GE said today in a statement. About 3,000 consumers were surveyed in the U.S., China and Singapore, GE said.

The report shows “stronger support for water recycling than we expected,” Heiner Markhoff, president and chief executive of water and process technologies for GE Power & Water, said in the statement. Population growth, urbanization and industrialization are driving the need for it, he said.

More than 80 percent of Americans support recycled water for “toilet-to-turf” uses that require non-potable water, the survey found. Those uses include power generation, industrial processing and manufacturing and flushing toilets.

Despite their positive perceptions of water reuse, Americans’ understanding of the water lifecycle lags behind that of those surveyed in China and Singapore,” GE said. “For example, 31 percent of Americans don’t know where their water comes from compared to only 14 percent of those in China and 15 percent of those in Singapore.”

Federal Target

The WateReuse Association, an Alexandria, Virginia-based trade group, is advocating a non-mandated federal target for sustainable sources of water, including recycling, said Jon Freedman, co-chairman of the association’s reuse committee and global government relations leader for GE’s water unit.

“We would like to see an aspirational goal for reuse,” Freedman said today during an interview on the sidelines of the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Water Leadership Forum in Del Mar, California. “We are socializing the idea on Capitol Hill.”

Increasing water reuse offers a solution to growing scarcity issues, GE said, as two-thirds of the world’s population, or 5.3 billion people, may be vulnerable to water shortages by 2025, according to United Nations reports.

Almost a fifth of the world’s freshwater resources are used for industrial purposes and about 70 percent for agriculture, U.N. studies show.

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