Urban centers around the world are grappling with the challenges associated with population increases, drought, and projected water shortages. Potable water reuse (i.e., purification of municipal wastewater for reuse as drinking water) is an option for supplementing existing water supplies. Public perception research on potable water reuse has predominantly employed surveys with multiple‐choice questions that constrain survey respondents to describe their concerns by choosing from several response options. This research examines hundreds of write‐in responses to a large public survey in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to provide a detailed analysis of residents' questions and concerns about potable water reuse. Findings demonstrate that allowing respondents to voice their actual concerns adds richness and nuance that cannot be obtained from multiple‐choice response data alone. Especially with controversial resource considerations, such as potable water reuse, planners would benefit from a full understanding of the problem before engaging with the community.