Broomfield, Colo. — More Americans are concerned about aging water infrastructure in their communities than last year and they’re willing to spend more to make improvements, according to a new survey released by MWH Global, now part of Stantec.
Among the survey’s key findings, nearly half of Americans (48 percent) feel that not having easy, low-cost access to water is an issue that U.S. communities are facing today – compared to 39 percent of Americans surveyed last year by Wakefield Research and MWH Global. In addition, 67 percent of U.S. consumers are worried about the amount of water used to make everyday products like food, clothing and electronics.
“Americans are more aware and more worried about the water used in their homes, communities and the products they buy,” said John Hanula, director of global business for MWH Global, now a part of Stantec. “The good news is that they’re also more willing to take action, whether it’s supporting funding for water infrastructure upgrades or choosing everyday products that conserve water.”
Increasing concern about aging water infrastructure
The clock is ticking nationwide as confidence in water infrastructure continues to decline. Last year, in MWH Global’s 2015 water survey, Americans believed their community’s water infrastructure would last an average of 16 more years. This year, that number dropped to 14 more years. Additionally, more than one in three (35 percent) Americans believe it will last less than five years.
The good news? Residents are increasingly willing to pay more for water infrastructure projects and upgrades in their community. The survey shows that 68 percent of consumers feel their community should be spending more money to ensure its water infrastructure is well-maintained and properly functioning. According to last year’s survey, nearly two-thirds, or 61 percent, of Americans support higher utility rates for the development and enhancement of water infrastructure in their communities.
Consumers’ focus on sustainability rising
Americans are also willing to make their own investments in responsible water usage. The survey found 67 percent of consumers are concerned about the amount of water it takes to produce items they use every day such as food and clothing. Many consumers are willing to vote with their wallet as 62 percent would be likely to pay more for a product made by a company focused on using less water in the manufacturing process.
Among millennial consumers, those born between 1980 and 2000, there’s even greater support for water-conscious manufacturing processes and products. According to the survey, 77 percent of millennials are concerned about the amount of water it takes to produce the items they use, and 74 percent of millennials are willing to pay a higher premium for goods produced using less water in the process.
“We continue to see consumers engaging in the process of how products are manufactured, including the role that water plays,” said Hanula. “For companies, this trend provides a unique opportunity to showcase existing and future programs with an eye on sustainability and a focus on meaningful consumer engagement.”
The MWH Global water survey was conducted by Wakefield Research among 1,005 nationally representative U.S. adults ages 18+, between April 13 and April 19, 2016, using an email invitation and an online survey. Quotas have been set to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the U.S. adults ages 18+. Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. For the interviews conducted in this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 3.1 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.
Read the results of the MWH Global water survey at www.mwhglobal.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/MWH_Stantec_Water_Survey_Results_2016_v3.pdf.