3.14.2017

Time Machine Tuesday: Public Opinion on Water Quality

This week we're only going back a decade, to 2007, but a lot has changed in ten years concerning today's topic.

A decade ago, the State of Colorado's Water Quality Control Division (WQCD) issued a report entitled Public Opinions on Water Quality Issues, which you can read online courtesy of our library.  The report contained the results of a statewide survey on water and environmental issues.  Recall, however, that in the decade since this report was published we have experienced events such as the Flint, Michigan water crisis, Colorado's 2013 floods, the 2015 Animas River spill, and increased interest in fracking, all of which may have caused opinions to change.  For instance, according to the 2007 report, just 71% of Coloradans surveyed reported that "the impact on public health is a very motivating reason to improve water quality."  Further, 93% of Coloradans believed their home drinking water was safe. 

How did opinion change over the decade?  In 2014, the WQCD issued a follow-up report that showed some moderately increased concern, although the percentage of respondents who believed their home drinking water to be safe only decreased from 93% to 90% (remember, the Flint crisis was just beginning in 2014).  However, the 2014 follow-up survey did show that water pollution had replaced air pollution as Coloradans' top environmental concern.* 

Now, three years have passed since the follow-up survey.  Have recent events caused more concern in Coloradans?  Or have state and local governments' recent efforts to improve water quality helped to bring back water users' confidence? We'll have to stay tuned for the next survey.

For many, many more reports and resources on water quality and other environmental issues in Colorado, search our library's online catalog.    



*Survey respondents were asked to rate the following environmental concerns:  water pollution, air pollution, climate change, habitat loss, and threatened/endangered species.  In 2007, air pollution and water pollution were nearly tied, with 35% of respondents rating air pollution as the top concern while 34% chose water pollution.  By 2014, the number of respondents rating water pollution as the top concern jumped to 42%, while air pollution trailed in a distant second at 21%.  The numbers for the other three concerns remained relatively stable.

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