Value of Water releases national poll on public attitudes about water & infrastructure

The poll found that Americans are deeply concerned with the state of water infrastructure.

PITSSBURGH, Feb. 24, 2016 -- Today, the Value of Water Coalition released the results of a new national poll on public attitudes and concerns about water. The poll found that Americans are deeply concerned with the state of water infrastructure.

Respondents were evenly split (47/47), initially, with their willingness to personally spend more on their water bills for increased investment in water systems. Once poll respondents received additional information about water issues, 60 percent of Americans are in favor of paying more to invest in water infrastructure—an increase of 13 percent.

“This is a critical time and important opportunity to have a conversation across the country about the importance of investing in our water systems. Being able to drink water straight from the tap and knowing that wastewater is safely and responsibly treated are top concerns for Americans. As a nation, we must prioritize investment in our water systems—to maintain high-quality water service today and for future generations,” said Radhika Fox, director of the Value of Water Coalition and CEO of the US Water Alliance, ahead of a press call introducing the poll results.

In light of the crisis in Flint, Michigan, 95 percent of respondents said it was important or very important for public officials to invest in water systems so other communities didn’t face what happened in Flint.

Other findings from the poll indicate that many people do not know what their yearly water bill amounts to. This is mainly due to the varied payment systems across the country –quarterly, yearly, monthly, condo or homeowner’s association making it difficult for consumers to quantify the cost of water.

When encouraged to consider tangible percentage increases in their water bill, an overwhelming majority would be willing to consider an increase of at least 5 percent, with a quarter of respondents even willing to pay a 10 percent increase. A high number of younger adults, minorities, and those with lower incomes were willing to pay over 10 percent.

After delivering additional information, the majority of those polled indicated they were very willing to pay a higher water bill.

"The most interesting finding from this poll, to me, was that 47 percent of respondents said they were willing to pay more to modernize water systems, notwithstanding the fact that the vast majority think that their water system is already in pretty good shape," Geoffrey Garin, president of Hart Research, said during the press call. "I think that underlies the degree to while people value water and want to stay ahead of the curve."

The poll indicated that Americans overwhelmingly think water infrastructure should be improved and modernized. Even though a majority of Americans thought their local water infrastructure was in good shape, 95 percent reported that it was important or very important that the infrastructure be improved and modernized; and 71% reported that it was VERY important.

About the poll: American Viewpoints and Hart Research conducted this national poll via phone of 1,000 adults across the country in January, 2016. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percent at 95 percent confidence, and fifty percent of the interviewees have a cell phone.

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