According to "Perspectives on America's Water", a study conducted on behalf of Nestlé Waters North America in May 2017, water is viewed as the most important natural resource in American consumers' daily lives, more so even than clean air (87% compared to 81%). Global market research firm PSB conducted this first-of-its-kind study, surveying a total of 6,699 U.S. adults, both American consumers and experts including academics, government officials and NGO leaders, to understand people's outlook on the current and future state of water in the United States.
66% of Americans believe their community's clean drinking water is at risk
The study found that two in three American consumers are concerned about the cleanliness and safety of their local drinking water, particularly in urban areas (70% vs. 63% in rural areas).
Many consumers and experts worry about the tap water in their homes (36% and 30%, respectively) and schools (40% for both), and the numbers are higher for parents of children under 18 (45%). Water supply issues are seen as worsening in the next decade: 42% of consumers believe water will become less available, and 66% foresee that water crises will have widespread consequences for individuals, businesses and the country overall.
Climate change seen to impact clean drinking water
71% of Americans surveyed say climate change has had a great deal or somewhat of an impact on access to clean drinking water. Experts in particular believe that climate change is negatively affecting clean drinking water (76%) and are more likely than American consumers overall to say this impact will increase over the next 10 years (58%). To mitigate these risks, American consumers say improving infrastructure (59%) or developing innovations for purifying water (58%) could help reduce the impact of climate change on clean drinking water.
Governments, businesses and environmental organizations must collaborate on solutions
"As the leading bottled water company in the United States, we have knowledge and experience in water management, water efficiency, source water protection and collaboration and problem solving," said Nelson Switzer, Chief Sustainability Officer at Nestlé Waters North America. "But we know we can accomplish far more together than we can alone. That is why we are committed to using these insights and skills to engage with our employees, suppliers, communities as well as non-profits, policymakers and other stakeholders who care deeply about the sustainability and the security of America's water supply to drive innovation and collaboration to ensure a clean, safe and secure water future for generations to come." Solutions include early detection systems that identify contamination in the water supply, more efficient water collection and purification methods, and infrastructure to increase water access, quality and capacity.
Together, respondents are in almost universal agreement (96%) that if the United States does not proactively invest in the country's water infrastructure system now, it will end up costing more in the long run.
"At Nestlé Waters we believe that access to safe and secure drinking water is a fundamental human right" concluded Nelson Switzer.
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