Water quality, availability among top concerns for Southern California consumers

July 18, 2023
A recent survey of 1,000 southern California residents finds consumers are concerned about water quality, and 60% preferred to pay for bottled water instead of drinking from their tap.

A recent survey by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California finds that a majority of Southern California consumers are concerned about the availability and safety of their drinking water, and about half are willing to pay higher rates for investments that address supply issues, according to a press release by the water district.

In addition to identifying top water issues of concern, the poll of 1,000 residents across Metropolitan’s six-county service area focused on the public’s opinion of how Metropolitan and local water agencies are performing, the taste and quality of tap water, preferences on bottled water use and residents’ commitment to conservation.

Metropolitan General Manager Adel Hagekhalil said the collected data will support Metropolitan’s efforts to understand public attitudes and awareness of water issues so that it can better engage with its communities regarding needed water resource investments as part of the district’s ongoing Climate Adaptation Master Planning effort.

The survey, conducted via telephone interviews and online surveys in English and Spanish in early May, found that about 64% of respondents believe that there is a real threat to Southern California’s water supplies and that the regions may not have enough water for the future. When asked to choose, 57% think Southern California water agencies’ highest priority should be ensuring we have adequate water supplies to meet the region’s needs compared with 37% who said the priority should be improving the safety and quality of their drinking water.

About two-thirds of residents agree that water supply investments are necessary, but just half are willing to personally pay for the improvements.

Though 62% of respondents agreed that their tap water is safe to drink and 48% think their tap water tastes good, 60% preferred to pay for bottled water instead of drinking from their tap. There also is a higher concern and less trust in tap water among BIPOC (Black, indigenous, and people of color) residents.

“It’s clear that we as water providers across Southern California must do more to increase trust within the communities we serve and bring everyone into the conversation –on both water supply and water quality issues,” said Metropolitan Board Director Barry D. Pressman, who chairs the board’s Subcommittee on Public Affairs Engagement. “Water is essential. It’s imperative the public understands the significant challenges we face and the opportunities before us to overcome them.”

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