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RMW January 2017

Figure 1. Three levels of legitimacy. 22 | ROCKY MOUNTAIN WATER JANUARY 2017 HOT TOPICS • The Pragmatic level focuses on the user’s self-interest, seeking to answer questions such as “How do I benefit per-sonally?” and “How am I involved in the decision-making process?” • The Moral level deals with social values and welfare, addressing questions like “How is quality and process safety guaranteed?” and “Is the organization trustworthy?” • The final level, Cognitive, deals with customs and routines that are taken for granted. “Does the technology fit with my daily life?” and “Is the technology essential, with no feasible alternatives?” are examples of the inquiries that community members need answered. Orange County and Nevada strive for legitimacy One example of how legitimacy can produce successful results is the Orange County Groundwater Replenishment System in California. Through its dedication to the outreach efforts, utility managers were recognized as trustworthy and competent experts in the community. (See “Further Reading” at the end of this article). Taking the lessons that Orange County learned to heart, a northern Nevada utility values legitimacy as part of a feasibility study that may someday lead to Nevada’s first potable reuse project. Essentially, the feasibility study must show that every aspect of the treatment train is robust and redundant. The utility takes full ownership from the home lateral to the final compliance testing, ensuring the public should have full confidence in the water utility. This includes looking carefully at pretreatment ordinances, collection systems, resource recovery treatment processes, and the most advanced water purification processes. One cornerstone of the feasibility study is a demonstration-scale project. Not only will this project show that treatment technologies are able to perform and meet stringent regulations, but community leaders and the general public also will be able to visit and see water purification processes in action. The public will be able to meet with the utility’s operations and laboratory staff, and these events will showcase the agencies’ technical skills and dedication to quality and also give the utility an opportunity to interact and share ideas with customers. Building trust and confidence with each community is vital. The Northern Nevada Regional Effluent Management Team driving this feasibility effort includes representatives from the City of Reno, Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility, Truckee Meadows Water Authority, the City of Sparks, Washoe County, and the Northern Nevada Water Planning Commis-sion. It is an exciting time to be in the water business, and the Northern Nevada Effluent Management Team demonstrates that utility leaders take the trust the public has afforded them very seriously. Rick Warner is Senior Engineer at Washoe County, Nev., and President of the Water Environment Federation (Alexandria, Va.). Barry Liner is Director of the Water Science & Engineering Center at WEF. Further reading Binz, C., Harris-Lovett, S., Kiparsky, M., Sedlak, D. L., and Truffer, B. (2016). The Thorny Road to Technology Legitimation—Institutional Work for Potable Water Reuse in California. Technological Forecasting and Social Change; 103:249. Harris-Lovett, S.R., Binz, C., Sedlak, D.L., Kiparsky, M., and Truffer, B. (2015). Beyond User Acceptance: A Legitimacy Framework for Potable Water Reuse in California. Environmental Science & Technology 49:13; 7552. Jordi, A. (2015). Legitimacy—The Key to Successful Implementation. Eawag Aquatic Research News. https://www.eawag.ch/fileadmin/Domain1/ News/User_Acceptance_englisch.pdf. The information provided in this article is designed to be educational. It is not intended to provide any type of professional advice including without limitation legal, accounting, or engineering. Your use of the information provided here is vol-untary and should be based on your own evaluation and analysis of its accuracy, appropriateness for your use, and any potential risks of using the information. The Water Environment Federation (WEF), author and the publisher of this arti-cle assume no liability of any kind with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents and specifically disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness of use for a particular purpose. Any references included are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute endorsement of any sources.


RMW January 2017
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