Public Policy Forum Blog

New survey shows mixed feelings on water issues

A new survey of nearly 400 residents of the Milwaukee, Kinnickinnic, and Menomonee River watersheds shows opinions are mixed on the role of government and the impacts of individual actions on protecting the region’s water resources.

The survey, designed and analyzed by the Public Policy Forum and commissioned by 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, also shows that citizens rank “the quality of water in the inland lakes, rivers, and streams in southeastern Wisconsin” an average of 3.3 on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 1 representing “extremely poor” and 5 representing “excellent”), and that sewer overflows and flooding are considered to be the top two water problems for the region during the next decade.

Respondents also view many government actions to protect water resources as at least somewhat effective, but split on whether the best governing body for water resource management is the state or a regional water district.

The most striking finding is that, in general, most respondents feel that the actions of individuals are not likely to have a big impact on water conservation or water quality. Yet, when asked about specific actions individuals might take in these areas, most are seen as being at least somewhat effective. In addition, when asked about their own actions, most respondents indicate they have taken action, or would be willing to do so, to protect the region's water resources.

A complete analysis of the survey can be found on the Forum's website.

The survey was funded by the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program and The Joyce Foundation of Chicago, with additional support from the Southeastern Wisconsin Watersheds Trust, Inc. and American Rivers. The Research Brief was underwritten by Badger Meter.

Anneliese Dickman