Say “infrastructure” and many people think roads and bridges. Yet, the concern about water issues has risen over the last few years. Even though water projects are only a small portion of the $1 trillion President Trump has proposed for infrastructure, a survey indicates Americans—young and old, women and men, Democrat and Republican—are willing to put up hard-earned dollars for water improvements.
The recent poll released by the Value of Water Campaign showed “overwhelming support for increasing federal investment in water infrastructure.” Here are some of the biggest findings from the poll and other public opinion surveys:
- In the United States, 63 percent of those who answered a global survey conducted by Ipsos in 2016 said they weren’t satisfied with their infrastructure. Respondents ranked water and sewage systems as their top priorities. Fewer than half (44 percent) said local roads and major highway networks needed top attention. Additionally, the poll found 76 percent of Americans believe it is vital to future economic growth to invest in infrastructure.
- A Gallup poll conducted in March 2017 revealed Republicans and Democrats alike support infrastructure spending. The only other issue that had more bipartisan support: family leave. Every other issue, including taxes, military spending and the travel ban, faced big partisan divisions. Yet, when it came to infrastructure, Americans agree that a fix is necessary.
- Results of the Value of Water Campaign poll released in May also showed bipartisan support with “overwhelming support for increasing federal investment in water infrastructure.” While Democrats (85 percent) responded only slightly higher than Republicans (79 percent), pollster Dave Metz said, “The public thinks we’re under-investing in infrastructure of all kinds right now and water infrastructure is no exception.”
- Asked by the Value of Water Campaign how they would rate their current state of their local water infrastructure, 84 percent stated it was “very good.” Yet, when MWH Global and Wakefield Research polled Americans and to ask how long their current water infrastructure would last, 35 percent said their community’s current infrastructure wouldn’t make it beyond five years.
As many politicians have discovered, getting the public to support an issue and getting them to pay a tax for improvements are often two different things. When it comes to infrastructure, however, more than one poll found citizens are willing to put up the funds. Surveys show that there does appear to be support for reasonable increases in their water costs to pay for infrastructure upgrades. Linda DiVall and Geoffrey Garin, pollsters on the 2016 Value of Water Coalition poll, noted, “An overwhelming majority would be willing to consider an increase of at least 5 percent, with a quarter of respondents even willing to pay a 10 percent increase.”
To better understand how important water infrastructure really is to the public, one might examine what DiVall and Garin called a “somewhat curious is the pattern of groups,” people they found who would be willing to dig deep in their pockets to pay more than 10 percent on taxes for improvements. This includes younger adults, minorities and those with lower incomes.
How important is water infrastructure to you? Do you feel your community’s water infrastructure demands attention and funding?