Thomas Robinson | April 20th, 2021
In a recent Gallup survey, Americans were asked about which environmental issues made them the most worried, and the two top responses were drinking water quality, and the condition of lakes, rivers, and reservoirs.
The majority of respondents were greatly concerned about drinking water (56%), and the pollution of rivers, lakes, and reservoirs (53%). A minority of respondents were greatly concerned about larger environmental issues like climate change (43%) or air pollution (41%). Water pollution is a problem that could personally affect a respondent in the survey which is attributed as the reason for such high concern over more widespread environmental challenges. Concerns are likely to be elevated as high profile events such as lead exposure in the drinking water of Flint, MI linger in the minds of the public.
Overall, opinions on the environment haven’t changed much over the past several years as respondents evaluation of environmental quality has remained about the same over the past 20 years that the survey has been run. Unfortunately, around 52% of respondents think the environment is getting worse while only 42% of respondents thought environmental quality is improving which suggests that the public’s opinion of environmental quality is declining overall.
Water quality issues are prevalent in Iowa, for example, Iowa’s Racoon River that runs through Des Moines was recently identified by American Rivers as one of the nation’s most endangered rivers. Poor water quality on both the Des Moines and the Racoon Rivers has required Des Moines’ water utility to install additional treatment to produce safe drinking water.