Introduction: Understanding consumer perception of drinking water can contribute to improvements in water management and consumer satisfaction. The aim of this study was to assess the consumer perception of tap water quality and other drinking water sources in Gonabad as a small semiarid city.
Methods: This study was performed in autumn and winter 2013. For collection data a researcher-made a questionnaire consisting of nine questions, based on demographic information prepared. Questions were asked for participants to provide information regarding household drinking water usage and patterns, opinion about tap water safety, taste and reasons for purchasing bottled water. For statistical analysis, analysis of variance (ANOVA) using SPSS version 16 was applied in this study.
Results: Results showed that demographic variables had a significant relationship with consumer satisfaction (p < 0.05). Office employees, women and poor families had the most satisfaction from tap water quality. Peoples' preferences for tap water, commercial softener, domestic softener, ghanat (a type of underground cistern) and bottled water were 27.8, 19, 27.8, 40.4 and 3.5% respectively. Dissatisfaction from production of foam, unsuitable taste, unacceptable appearance and other problems in tap water was 11.1, 95.6, 27.8 and 0.4% respectively. Consumer reasons for using domestic water softeners are: suitable taste (80%), easy availability (71%), economical (56%) and low health side effects (34%).
Conclusion: According to these results it was clear that each consumer group, based on self-condition, prefers using a specific drinking water source.
Keywords: Consumer perception; Tap water; Water quality; Water source; drinking water.