Student support and perceptions of urine source separation in a university community

Stephanie K.L. Ishii, Treavor H. Boyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Urine source separation, i.e., the collection and treatment of human urine as a separate waste stream, has the potential to improve many aspects of water resource management and wastewater treatment. However, social considerations must be taken into consideration for successful implementation of this alternative wastewater system. This work evaluated the perceptions of urine source separation held by students living on-campus at a major university in the Southeastern region of the United States. Perceptions were evaluated in the context of the Theory of Planned Behavior. The survey population represents one group within a community type (universities) that is expected to be an excellent testbed for urine source separation. Overall, respondents reported high levels of support for urine source separation after watching a video on expected benefits and risks, e.g., 84% indicated that they would vote in favor of urine source separation in residence halls. Support was less apparent when measured by willingness to pay, as 33% of respondents were unwilling to pay for the implementation of urine source separation and 40% were only willing to pay $1 to $10 per semester. Water conservation was largely identified as the most important benefit of urine source separation and there was little concern reported about the use of urine-based fertilizers. Statistical analyses showed that one's environmental attitude, environmental behavior, perceptions of support within the university community, and belief that student opinions have an impact on university decision makers were significantly correlated with one's support for urine source separation. This work helps identify community characteristics that lend themselves to acceptance of urine source separation, such as those related to environmental attitudes/behaviors and perceptions of behavioral control and subjective norm. Critical aspects of these alternative wastewater systems that require attention in order to foster public acceptance after implementation are also highlighted, such as convenient and aesthetically pleasing methods for waterless toilet paper disposal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)146-156
Number of pages11
JournalWater Research
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Public acceptance
  • Public perception
  • Survey
  • Theory of planned behavior
  • Urine source separation
  • Wastewater treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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