The study revealed that many of the participants used the word "magic" to describe the water treatment process. The research team also found that 29 percent of the students failed to draw a water treatment plant, while 64 percent didn't draw a wastewater treatment plant. The study also showed that a measly seven percent of participants were able to draw a nearly accurate description of the whole process.
"Our results show that most university students are unable to produce a complete or accurate depiction of the built water system. Environmental students are more likely than others to include a higher number of the seven major categories of the drinking water system in their drawings...In general, students who have higher perceptions of risk related to infrastructure and those that have noticed more visual cues related to the drinking water system have more complete knowledge about the water system... Non-environmental participants had a significantly lower perception of risk than environmental participants. Non-environmental participants had the highest perception of risk for water quality, followed by water quantity, and lastly for water infrastructure. Our results also highlight many significant misperceptions...This finding may shed light on why the public is seemingly uninterested in water infrastructure issues," the researchers wrote in Judgment and Decision Making.
"Climate change will increase the competition for water and the risks to the supply. Water infrastructure is increasingly fragile. It's going to take political will and public support to respond to new and old risks, and we may not support the adaptation strategies we need if we take our water systems for granted. Whether it's in schools or through other means, public environmental education must address these gaps," Dr Shahzeen Attari, a professor at Indiana University's School of Public and Environmental Affairs, said in DailyMail.co.uk.
The water treatment process goes through a number of various stages. Water is first extracted from environmental sources including reservoirs, lakes, rivers, or underground aquifers. The extracted water then goes to treatment facilities where it undergoes certain processes. (Related: This is what happens when water extraction goes too far)