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Research taps into recycled water issue


Brigid Veale
20 September 2007
Why are people so sceptical about drinking recycled water? That is just one of the questions to be answered by Southern Cross University psychology students at their annual research conference in Coffs Harbour tomorrow (September 21).

The conference will feature presentations from fourth-year students in the Bachelor of Psychology (Honours), who have completed research on topics ranging from water to gambling and people’s understanding of refugees.

Dr Lewis Bizo, Head of the Department of Psychology, said the conference was an opportunity for the students to present their research projects to fellow students, staff and members of the community.

“The presentations will cover a very broad range of topics from both basic and applied topic areas, using a variety of research methodologies and techniques,” Dr Bizo said.

Fourth-year psychology student Peta Callaghan completed her research on the use of recycled water.

She has found that overwhelmingly people are not prepared to use recycled water for drinking, showering, bathing, cooking or washing clothes.

“What I found was that people have really strong images of sewerage and chemicals,” Peta said.

Her study included surveys distributed to university students, general members of the community and members of an environmental group.

“There were no differences in the responses from the different groups. The environmental cause is a big one, but it’s not enough to make people want to drink recycled water,” she said.

“In order for the introduction of recycled water to be successful there will need to be a turn-around in public support. If there is going to be an implementation strategy it will need to focus on promoting recycled water as a ‘safe’ option.”

Dr Bizo said the Department of Psychology strived to promote an exciting and dynamic academic environment.

“We aim to promote a culture that values intellectual curiosity and research excellence. This research project is a core element of our four-year Bachelor of Pyschology, which attracts students from throughout Australia and has developed a reputation for excellence in teaching,” he said.

The research conference is being held at the Norm Jordan Pavilion, Coffs Harbour Showground, from 9.30am.

Media are invited to attend.

Photo: What's in a glass of water ... Peta Callaghan's research has looked at what people think of drinking recycled water.