Americans value water availability over price – GE survey

More than 80% of Americans are more concerned about the availability of water in the future and its quality than they are about its price, origin and treatment.

This is one finding of a Water Reuse Survey undertaken by GE and published on 23 October 2012.

The online survey was conducted among a total of 3,000 adults, 18 years or older, 1,000 each in the US, Singapore and China. Interviewing took place on 1-11 June 2012.

While an online survey naturally self-selects a more educated population, promoters of water-reuse will take heart from the finding that 80% or more surveyed Americans were in favor of using recycled water for power generation; landscaping; industrial processing and manufacturing; toilet flushing; car washing; and agricultural irrigation.

Oddly, while 51% were in favor of swimming in recycled water and 51% agreed that it was drinkable, only 30% supported drinking it.

Americans also see the connection between energy and water – 86% understood that energy was needed to deliver water and 74% were aware that water was needed to create energy. They also expected energy industry leaders to demonstrate water stewardship by using recycled water to produce electricity – and believed this could positively impact cost and efficiency.

However, Americans’ understanding of the water lifecycle and solutions lags behind that of those surveyed in China and Singapore. For example, 31% of Americans do not know where their water comes from, compared with only 14% of those in China and 15% of those in Singapore.

When it comes to paying more to protect future generations from water shortages, less than half (44%) of Americans were prepared to do it and the older the respondent the less they were prepared to pay – US$ 17 for under-30s and US$ 10 for those in the post-WW2 generation.

Consumers in both China and Singapore demonstrated far greater understanding of water cycles and terminology than Americans – by nearly 20% on most topics.

When asked about a series of terms relating to water, Americans had the least familiarity with the terms recycled water (60%) and water reuse (51%), demonstrating a lack of familiarity with solutions to water scarcity. Conversely, more than 80% of respondents in China were familiar with these terms, and felt more positive about them.

The above facts were taken from the report’s executive summary for the USA. The summaries for Singapore and China have not yet been released by GE.