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Insights on Customer
Attitudes Toward Water
Mitch Tobin
Editor, WaterPolls.org
mitch@seatosnow.com
Insights on Customer Attitudes Toward Water
Overview
1) Americans are very worried about their water
2) Flint and drought have impacted public opinion
3) Water is less partisan than many other issues
4) Many favor conservation and see it as their civic duty
5) Americans are willing to pay to fix their water
infrastructure
6) Water seen as a good value, but people are wary of
rate increases
7) Communications are critical for recycled water
1) Americans are very worried about their water
Only 1 in 3 Americans drink straight from the tap
Source: February 2016 AP-GfK Poll
What kind of water do you normally drink at home?
33%
36%
30%
2%
0%
5%
10%
15%
20%
25%
30%
35%
40%
Straight tap water Filtered tap water Bottled water Refused/Not
Answered
Only 1 in 4 Americans know source of their water
Source: March 2011 FM3/POS poll
Awareness of water source varies across the West
Source: FM3/POS Sept./Oct. 2017 Water Foundation poll
Americans have worried about water for decades
Source: Gallup Poll
Water pollution rated as serious as heroin abuse
Source: 2016 Kaiser Health Tracking Poll
47%
73%
66%
51%
46%
54%
78%
75%
65%
49%
56%
80%
75%
64%
56%
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%
90%
Whites Non-whites Income under
$30,000
Income $30,000
to $74,999
Income $75,000+
2015 2016 2017
Percent who worried “a great deal” about drinking water pollution
Non-white, lower-income Americans especially worried
Source: Gallup Poll
2) Flint and drought have impacted public opinion
Many think a crisis like Flint could happen to them
Source: May 2017 Nestlé Waters North America poll
Californians’ views of water supply: 2009-2017
Source: Public Policy Institute of California
“Would you say that the supply of water is a big problem, somewhat of a problem, or not much of
a problem in your part of California?”
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%
Dec-09
Apr-10
Aug-10
Dec-10
Apr-11
Aug-11
Dec-11
Apr-12
Aug-12
Dec-12
Apr-13
Aug-13
Dec-13
Apr-14
Aug-14
Dec-14
Apr-15
Aug-15
Dec-15
Apr-16
Aug-16
Dec-16
Apr-17
Big problem
Not much of a
problem
Public opinion impacts water conservation efforts
Source: Public Policy Institute of California
3) Water is less partisan than many other issues
Strong bipartisan support for water conservation
Source: 2016 Conservation in the West Poll
Overwhelming support for fixing water infrastructure
Source: May 2017 Value of Water Campaign poll
Bipartisan consensus on reforming flood policies
Source: March 2017 Pew Charitable Trusts poll
But climate change evokes strong partisan differences
Source: Sept./Oct. 2017 AP-NORC poll
Wide partisan divide over climate change
Source: FM3/POS Sept./Oct. 2017 Water Foundation poll
4) Many favor conservation and see it as their
civic duty
Many people see water conservation as a civic duty
Source: San Diego County Water Authority
Californians’ views on local water conservation efforts
Source: July 2017 Public Policy Institute of California Poll
“When it comes to water conservation in your part of California, do you think that
your local government is doing too much, the right amount, or not enough?”
6% 8% 8% 5% 7% 4%
52% 52%
43% 52% 50% 57%
38% 35%
43%
39% 39% 35%
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%
90%
100%
All adults Central
Valley
Inland
Empire
Los Angeles Orange/San
Diego
San
Francisco
Bay Area
Don't
know
Not
enough
The right
amount
Too much
5) Americans are willing to pay to fix their
water infrastructure
People may not instantly think of water infrastructure
High levels of concern over water infrastructure
Source: 2016 MWH Global water survey
Willingness to pay $1/month for infrastructure, clean water
Source: FM3/POS Sept./Oct. 2017 Water Foundation poll
6) Water seen as a good value, but people are
wary of rate increases
Most Westerners think their water bills are reasonable
Source: Sept./Oct. 2017 Water Foundation poll
Many see water as a good or excellent value
Source: San Diego County Water Authority
Customers are wary of water rate increases
Source: San Diego County Water Authority
7) Communications are critical for recycled water
Recycled water popular in San Francisco Bay Area
7
11
23
23
26
37
46
50
24
25
35
40
42
38
38
38
32
25
18
17
17
9
7
5
32
31
12
6
10
3
3
2
6
8
11
13
5
12
7
4
0 20 40 60 80 100
Raising water rates
Requiring $5/month "drought fee"
Adding recycled water to drinking water supplies
Building new dams and reservoirs
Implementing mandatory water restrictions
Expanding seawater desalination
Increasing efficiency standards for farms
Expanding the use of recycled water
Strongly favor Somewhat favor Somewhat oppose Strongly oppose Don't know
Percent
Source: April 2015 Bay Area Council Poll
The following are potential strategies for improving California’s drought preparedness.
For each one, please select if you favor or oppose it.
Opinion on recycled water depends on intended use
11%
18%
22%
39%
41%
60%
65%
69%
86%
87%
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
Drinking
Cooking
Bathing
Filling swimming pools
Washing clothes
Watering crops
Watering dairy fields
Watering fruit trees
Flushing toilet
Watering lawn
Source: Iris Hui and Bruce Cain, "Overcoming psychological resistance toward
using recycled water in California," Water and Environment Journal, Aug. 2017.
% willing to use recycled
water in application
Messaging is critical to views of recycled water
Source: March 2016 Xylem poll
Californians’ views on building desalination plants
“Please say if you favor or oppose the following: building desalination plants on the
California coast.”
56%
67%
33%
26%
11% 7%
0%
20%
40%
60%
80%
100%
February 2006 July 2017
Don't know
Oppose
Favor
Source: July 2017 Public Policy Institute of California Poll
Connect with WaterPolls.org
Mitch Tobin
mitch@seatosnow.com
303-330-9487

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Insights on Customer Attitudes Toward Water

  • 1. Insights on Customer Attitudes Toward Water Mitch Tobin Editor, WaterPolls.org mitch@seatosnow.com
  • 3. Overview 1) Americans are very worried about their water 2) Flint and drought have impacted public opinion 3) Water is less partisan than many other issues 4) Many favor conservation and see it as their civic duty 5) Americans are willing to pay to fix their water infrastructure 6) Water seen as a good value, but people are wary of rate increases 7) Communications are critical for recycled water
  • 4. 1) Americans are very worried about their water
  • 5. Only 1 in 3 Americans drink straight from the tap Source: February 2016 AP-GfK Poll What kind of water do you normally drink at home? 33% 36% 30% 2% 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% Straight tap water Filtered tap water Bottled water Refused/Not Answered
  • 6. Only 1 in 4 Americans know source of their water Source: March 2011 FM3/POS poll
  • 7. Awareness of water source varies across the West Source: FM3/POS Sept./Oct. 2017 Water Foundation poll
  • 8. Americans have worried about water for decades Source: Gallup Poll
  • 9. Water pollution rated as serious as heroin abuse Source: 2016 Kaiser Health Tracking Poll
  • 10. 47% 73% 66% 51% 46% 54% 78% 75% 65% 49% 56% 80% 75% 64% 56% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% Whites Non-whites Income under $30,000 Income $30,000 to $74,999 Income $75,000+ 2015 2016 2017 Percent who worried “a great deal” about drinking water pollution Non-white, lower-income Americans especially worried Source: Gallup Poll
  • 11. 2) Flint and drought have impacted public opinion
  • 12. Many think a crisis like Flint could happen to them Source: May 2017 Nestlé Waters North America poll
  • 13. Californians’ views of water supply: 2009-2017 Source: Public Policy Institute of California “Would you say that the supply of water is a big problem, somewhat of a problem, or not much of a problem in your part of California?” 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% Dec-09 Apr-10 Aug-10 Dec-10 Apr-11 Aug-11 Dec-11 Apr-12 Aug-12 Dec-12 Apr-13 Aug-13 Dec-13 Apr-14 Aug-14 Dec-14 Apr-15 Aug-15 Dec-15 Apr-16 Aug-16 Dec-16 Apr-17 Big problem Not much of a problem
  • 14. Public opinion impacts water conservation efforts Source: Public Policy Institute of California
  • 15. 3) Water is less partisan than many other issues
  • 16. Strong bipartisan support for water conservation Source: 2016 Conservation in the West Poll
  • 17. Overwhelming support for fixing water infrastructure Source: May 2017 Value of Water Campaign poll
  • 18. Bipartisan consensus on reforming flood policies Source: March 2017 Pew Charitable Trusts poll
  • 19. But climate change evokes strong partisan differences Source: Sept./Oct. 2017 AP-NORC poll
  • 20. Wide partisan divide over climate change Source: FM3/POS Sept./Oct. 2017 Water Foundation poll
  • 21. 4) Many favor conservation and see it as their civic duty
  • 22. Many people see water conservation as a civic duty Source: San Diego County Water Authority
  • 23. Californians’ views on local water conservation efforts Source: July 2017 Public Policy Institute of California Poll “When it comes to water conservation in your part of California, do you think that your local government is doing too much, the right amount, or not enough?” 6% 8% 8% 5% 7% 4% 52% 52% 43% 52% 50% 57% 38% 35% 43% 39% 39% 35% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% All adults Central Valley Inland Empire Los Angeles Orange/San Diego San Francisco Bay Area Don't know Not enough The right amount Too much
  • 24. 5) Americans are willing to pay to fix their water infrastructure
  • 25. People may not instantly think of water infrastructure
  • 26. High levels of concern over water infrastructure Source: 2016 MWH Global water survey
  • 27. Willingness to pay $1/month for infrastructure, clean water Source: FM3/POS Sept./Oct. 2017 Water Foundation poll
  • 28. 6) Water seen as a good value, but people are wary of rate increases
  • 29. Most Westerners think their water bills are reasonable Source: Sept./Oct. 2017 Water Foundation poll
  • 30. Many see water as a good or excellent value Source: San Diego County Water Authority
  • 31. Customers are wary of water rate increases Source: San Diego County Water Authority
  • 32. 7) Communications are critical for recycled water
  • 33. Recycled water popular in San Francisco Bay Area 7 11 23 23 26 37 46 50 24 25 35 40 42 38 38 38 32 25 18 17 17 9 7 5 32 31 12 6 10 3 3 2 6 8 11 13 5 12 7 4 0 20 40 60 80 100 Raising water rates Requiring $5/month "drought fee" Adding recycled water to drinking water supplies Building new dams and reservoirs Implementing mandatory water restrictions Expanding seawater desalination Increasing efficiency standards for farms Expanding the use of recycled water Strongly favor Somewhat favor Somewhat oppose Strongly oppose Don't know Percent Source: April 2015 Bay Area Council Poll The following are potential strategies for improving California’s drought preparedness. For each one, please select if you favor or oppose it.
  • 34. Opinion on recycled water depends on intended use 11% 18% 22% 39% 41% 60% 65% 69% 86% 87% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Drinking Cooking Bathing Filling swimming pools Washing clothes Watering crops Watering dairy fields Watering fruit trees Flushing toilet Watering lawn Source: Iris Hui and Bruce Cain, "Overcoming psychological resistance toward using recycled water in California," Water and Environment Journal, Aug. 2017. % willing to use recycled water in application
  • 35. Messaging is critical to views of recycled water Source: March 2016 Xylem poll
  • 36. Californians’ views on building desalination plants “Please say if you favor or oppose the following: building desalination plants on the California coast.” 56% 67% 33% 26% 11% 7% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% February 2006 July 2017 Don't know Oppose Favor Source: July 2017 Public Policy Institute of California Poll
  • 37. Connect with WaterPolls.org Mitch Tobin mitch@seatosnow.com 303-330-9487