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TACKLING PUBLIC PERCEPTION WITH PUBLIC PARTICIPATION: APPLICATION OF THE WERF BIOSOLIDS PUBLIC PERCEPTION STUDY

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Abstract:

The Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) conducted two studies of public perception regarding biosolids (Beecher et al., 2004) and water reuse (Hartley, 2003). Both studies came to similar conclusions: public understanding and support of wastewater treatment processes, including biosolids management, are created through developing long-term relationships with potentially affected individuals and communities. This is done by ensuring strong two-way, respectful communications and providing information useful to all recipients. It's about building trust and fairness and demonstrating an organizational commitment to spending the staff time and money necessary to involve diverse stakeholders in ways they find meaningful.

This paper reviews the biosolids public perception research findings and recommendations in the WERF study, including the results of the unique 2002 nationwide Biosolids Public Knowledge and Perception Survey. It discusses application of public participation and advanced risk communications to biosolids management programs to reduce the risk of the “public veto.” Applications of these topics to Environmental Management Systems (EMS) for biosolids and in recent experiences are also discussed.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.2175/193864705783967692

Publication date: 2005-01-01

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