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Survey: New Jersey Residents Name Clean Drinking Water as Top Environmental Priority

March 28th, 2018 by

Results also highlight concern about the condition of water infrastructure and willingness to support investment in upgrades

This article was written by New Jersey Future Program Manager Ed DiFiglia and New Jersey Future Community Outreach Coordinator Mo Kinberg.

New Jersey Future and Jersey Water Works have released the results of a survey of 1,175 New Jersey residents conducted in November 2017 that indicated that New Jersey residents believe securing clean, safe drinking water should be the top environmental priority for the new governor and Legislature. Among the respondents, 40 percent rated “protecting our drinking water” as their main environmental concern.

The survey results also revealed New Jersey residents’ interest in additional investments in water infrastructure, with 90 percent saying that it’s either important or a top priority.

Results from the survey found a lack of familiarity of water infrastructure issues among New Jersey residents. Fewer than one in 10 New Jerseyans said they were “very knowledgeable” about combined-sewer overflows, stormwater runoff, green infrastructure or stormwater utilities. When respondents were given definitions of these terms, they recognized the problems and indicated support for addressing them.

The goal of this survey was to get a baseline of what New Jerseyans know and don’t know about the state of their water systems, what their concerns are, and what is most important to them. To develop the survey, focus groups were conducted in New Brunswick and Jersey City to help understand how community members talk about water and how they interact with water systems around them. Responses gathered from the focus group questions were used to help draft survey questions that would be relevant to New Jersey residents. Jersey Water Works members provided feedback on the draft survey questions and on what information would be most important to gather from the survey. Before fielding the survey, it was tested by Jersey Water Works members, New Jersey Future staff, friends and colleagues.

New Jersey Future will use the survey results to help bring additional awareness to New Jersey’s water infrastructure needs and to inform its work in CSO communities. Jersey Water Works members will use the results to refine the collaborative’s education and outreach efforts, and will issue the survey again to see if the collaborative’s efforts have moved the needle on residents’ awareness of these issues.

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