Water is Now on the Agenda for Most Americans – Who Can Help?

A new study, “Perspectives on America’s Water,” finds that 61 percent of Americans consumers and 66 percent of experts characterized water problems as a crisis or major issue for the United States.

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In an effort to build alliances and show leadership in its quest to build Shared Value with its stakeholders, Nestlé Waters North America recently authorized a comprehensive study on America’s water by the global research firm PSB. According to Nelson Switzer, Chief Sustainability Officer at Nestlé, “Informed action is the best way to safeguard our water and realize our goal of creating shared value.”

The study, the first of its kind to gather both the opinions of the U.S. general population and those of experts in the field, found that water is viewed as the most important natural resource in Americans’ daily lives, more so even than clean air.

Nestlè Waters believes that access to safe and secure drinking water is a fundamental human right and we all have a role, responsibility and obligation to contribute to making this a reality.

Nelson Switzer, Chief Sustainability Officer, Nestlé Waters North America

The study found that 66 percent of Americans believe their own community’s clean drinking water is at risk, and 96% believed 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.

“The takeaways from this study are clear to us: Americans care deeply about the state of their drinking water, and they believe investments in infrastructure and innovation are needed now,” said Nelson Switzer, Chief Sustainability Officer at Nestlé Waters North America. “It’s our hope that these insights will accelerate the pace of conversation and jump-start concrete actions needed to address our shared water challenges. At Nestlè Waters we believe that access to safe and secure drinking water is a fundamental human right and we know we all have a role, responsibility and obligation to contribute to making this a reality.”


Report Highlights:

* Two in three Americans believe their community’s clean drinking water is at risk

* Most Americans believe significant investments in water infrastructure are needed to avoid future water crises

* Americans expect cross-sector collaboration from governments, businesses and environmental organizations to secure a clean water future


Concerns About Cleanliness and Safety

Many American consumers and experts question whether the tap water in their home (36 percent and 30 percent, respectively) and schools (40 percent for both) is clean and safe. Parents with school-aged children under the age of 18 are more likely to worry; 45 percent of this group question the safety of the tap water in their schools. Government officials polled worry the least, with only 16 percent who say they question the safety of water in their homes.

There is also a widespread concern among Americans that water supply issues will become more pressing within the next decade. Forty-two percent of Americans surveyed believe water will become less available in the next 10 years, and two-thirds (66 percent) believe water crises will have widespread consequences for individuals, businesses and the United States overall.


Most Believe Climate Change Will Increasingly Impact Access to Clean Water

Nearly three-quarters (71 percent) of respondents say climate change has had a great deal or somewhat of an impact on access to clean drinking water, by reducing the overall amount (41 percent) and quality (38 percent) of water available. About half (51 percent) say the impact of climate change on access to clean drinking water will increase over the next 10 years, but improving infrastructure (59 percent) or developing innovations for purifying water (58 percent) could help mitigate this impact. Experts are especially likely to say climate change is impacting clean drinking water (76 percent) and are more likely than American consumers overall to say this impact will increase over the next 10 years (58 percent).


Broad Support for Infrastructure Improvements and Funding

Americans surveyed support investment in infrastructure to address both the causes and effects of water-related issues. In terms of specific infrastructure improvements, Americans believe it is necessary to prioritize early detection systems that identify contamination in the water supply (64 percent), more efficient water collection and purification methods (52 percent) and infrastructure to increase water access, quality and capacity (48 percent).

To accomplish this, Americans expect cross-sector collaboration from government at all levels, as well as businesses and environmental organizations. American consumers expect local (71 percent), state (71 percent) and federal governments (65 percent) to play a role in ensuring people have access to clean drinking water, as well as consumers (39 percent) and businesses (35 percent). Experts are especially likely to see opportunity for consumers (45 percent) and businesses to be involved (40 percent).

“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 Switzer. “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.”

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