Synthesis of public opinion on water
Looking across polls and based on interviews with pollsters, we have synthesized the following findings from public opinion research on water.
- 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.
- Water pollution is near the top of Americans’ fears and Americans say contaminated water is as serious a health problem as heroin abuse.
- Around the globe and the nation, people see drought and other water issues as the most worrisome impacts of climate change.
- A majority of Americans believe climate change is already impacting the water supply.
- Most Americans link climate change and the increasing severity of storms and hurricanes.
- Democratic voters are much more likely to believe in human-caused climate change, but many Republicans agree that the weather is getting more extreme and unpredictable.
- 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.
- Views of recycled water depend heavily on how that water is eventually used, with support for irrigation with treated wastewater much greater than using such water for potable supplies.
- 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.
- Although wary of rate increases, many people say they’re willing to pay a small, extra amount on their water bill to ensure clean water supplies.
- There is bipartisan support for reforming flood policies by improving preparedness and mitigating risks.
- Westerners are deeply concerned about their water supply, but there are important variations across the sprawling region.
- Western voters generally believe there is enough water to supply various uses, including cities, agriculture, industry, and the environment.
- Efforts to improve water efficiency, recycle water, and protect watersheds tend to poll better than changing water laws or promoting water markets.
WaterPolls.org aggregates, analyzes, and visualizes public opinion data on water-related issues. Stay informed via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, RSS, and email.