Project #4551

Terminology for Improved Communication Regarding CECs

Principal Investigator
Research Manager
Mrs. Alice E Fulmer
King's College London
Utility Management
Constituents of Emerging Concern (CECs)
Customer Relations & Stakeholder Engagement


This project's primary aim was to develop successful communication tools that ensure consumers can easily find and understand tailored water quality information relating to contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) and risk from a reputable information source, such as a water utility website. To this end, the researchers investigated consumer information use patterns, needs, and preferences, and their understanding of key terminology. Current information practices and materials utilized in the U.S. water industry, as represented by seven participating utilities, were also evaluated. Research partner: UKWIR. Published in 2017.

Recently, Central Arkansas Water did exploratory sampling with its customers and several samples tested positive for Legionella. “Communicating according to these guidelines diffused a potentially volatile situation. Our customers had an overwhelmingly positive response to our communications around this issue and had confidence in what we were saying. They stayed calm and weren’t fearful. With the help of this work, our communication has changed for the better.” - Sharon Sweeney, Central Arkansas Water

"Communicating according to guidelines such as these has encouraged public confidence," said Gary Burlingame, Director of the Bureau of Laboratory Services at PWD. "We get good feedback from customers, and the news media comes to us often to get information rather than to attack us— so that’s a good place to be." - Gary Burlingame, Philadelphia Water Department