Synthesis of public opinion research on water
Looking across polls and based on interviews with pollsters, we have synthesized the following findings from public opinion research on water. This is a work in progress that will be updated as we analyze new surveys.
- Drought, floods, and cases of contaminated water are some of the primary events that shift public opinion on water.
- Among environmental concerns, water pollution has been at the top of Americans’ worries for decades; concern has increased recently, possibly due to the Flint crisis and California drought.
- Non-white and lower-income Americans have expressed especially high levels of concern about water.
- In California and other Western states, worries about water have sometimes eclipsed concerns about the economy and unemployment in recent polls.
- Around the globe and the nation, people see drought and other water issues as the most worrisome impacts of climate change.
- As with many public policy issues, there is a partisan divide in opinion on water, but it is less extreme than divisions over climate change and some other environmental problems.
- In general, Americans and Westerners prefer conservation and efficiency measures over building new dams and water works.
- People say they’re willing to make changes in their daily lives to reduce water use, and to pay for upgrades to water infrastructure.
- Americans may be unsure of their water source, but virtually everyone understands the need for clean water and how events such as droughts and contamination can impact supplies.