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Understanding farmers’ preferences for wastewater reuse frameworks in agricultural irrigation: lessons from a choice experiment in the Western Cape, South Africa

Cecilia Saldías
Stijn Speelman
Guido van Huylenbroeck
Nick Vink


Wastewater has emerged as an alternative source of water. Since the agricultural sector remains the largest water user world-wide, it is the main potential user of treated wastewater. However, while there are trade-offs in using wastewater, it may be the only option in water scarce regions. South Africa has included water reuse as a policy option; hence the aim of this study is to understand farmers’ preferences regarding water reuse frameworks for irrigation. A choice modelling approach was applied to identify the elements defining these frameworks and to quantify their relative importance amongst farmers in the agricultural hinterland of Cape Town. The findings suggest that water reuse is acceptable to farmers in the area. Furthermore, they prefer options that guarantee good quality water and low levels of restrictions on use practices. Due to low trust in water service providers, farmers are willing to pay for a privately-managed scheme for water reuse, which suggests that the management model for implementing such schemes is important.

Keywords: water reuse, irrigation, agriculture, choice experiment, South Africa

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1816-7950
print ISSN: 0378-4738