By Mark LeChevallier, principal and manager, Dr. Water Consulting, LLC
Family Feud, first launched in 1976, has been a top game show in syndication, new iterations, as well as a pop-culture icon. Of course the trademark line from the show is “survey says….” Sometimes the responses to the surveys are predicable, but other times you wonder “who in the world was answering those questions?” Gallup just released their annual environmental poll, conducted in March, and maybe it’s not surprising, but 63 percent of respondents said they “worry a great deal about pollution of their drinking water.”
Gallup reports that these results reflect an all-time high concern since they started the poll 16 years ago. Moreover, poll numbers indicate that Americans are more concerned about water pollution than the other four key environmental issues assessed in the poll (air pollution, climate change, loss of tropical rain forests and the extinction of plant and animal species). That makes sense, as pollution of drinking water has an immediate personal impact!
Poll analysts connected news about high-profile water crises with the rise in Americans’ concern about the quality of their drinking water. This is completely understandable given the headlines about lead in the water of Flint, Michigan and some other cities. At the same time, newspapers are shouting headlines about risks from industrial chemicals, pesticides, and “emerging contaminants.” Environmental groups may advocate for certain policies or viewpoints; and of course you can find almost any opinion on the internet! Having people pay more attention to their water is a good thing. Being a vigilant consumer is a positive step – but how does one sift through all the noise to get the right information?
Fortunately, this is the time of year when all water utilities are required to inform their customers on the quality of their drinking water. The process must be completed by July 1 and customers can receive this information either in print form or electronically. The “consumer confidence report” is intended to provide the public with information on the quality of their drinking water and how to get additional information if there are any questions.
American Water’s annual Water Quality Report provides details how we meet or surpass all federal, state or local standards for delivering safe, quality drinking water. American Water customers can access their Water Quality Report by using this link: https://amwater.com/corp/water-quality-wastewater-service/water-quality-reports and then just enter their zip code to get their specific report. Other information is available that addresses frequently asked questions. There is also a phone number that will link you to our national call center where an agent can help you get additional information, if needed.
Individuals can also make an effort to be aware of what is happening at local, state and federal levels in terms of water policies, and get involved. Engaging your local, state, or federal representatives can show your commitment to water quality and make your voice is heard.
It takes a concerted daily effort by many teams of dedicated employees within the water industry to ensure that quality standards are consistently met and continue to improve. Keeping people informed and aware can drive actions and keep us vigilant and vocal on key water issues. This information and understanding can go a long way to address the concerns of the “63 percent” and help provide assurance and peace of mind about the quality of your drinking water. No feuding needed…this is something all families can agree is important.