Public Policy Forum Blog

The People Speak: Citizens' views on water issues

The winter 2010 People Speak Poll, conducted in conjunction with the Center for Urban Initiatives and Research at UWM and The Business Journal Serving Greater Milwaukee, focuses on water issues including quality, quantity, governance, and economic development.

The People Speak is a tracking poll conducted at regular intervals throughout the year. Its purpose is to gather information from local citizens about their interests in, preferences for, and concerns about public policy. By gathering and reporting these citizens' perspectives, the partners hope to expand the public voice in policy matters affecting greater Milwaukee.

Highlights from the February 2010 poll of 429 residents in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Washington and Ozaukee counties include:
  • Solid support for efforts to use the region's fresh water resources as an economic development tool.
  • Concern for water quality in Lake Michigan, but confidence in the quality of local drinking water.
  • Consensus on the need for and importance of water conservation in general, but not a tendency to conserve water on a household level.
  • Moderate to strong support for allowing the City of Waukesha to access water from Lake Michigan, as long as the water is returned to the Great Lakes basin.
  • Preference for regional water governance, rather than leaving it up to municipalities or the state.
In addition, the February findings on a more general set of public policy issues mirrored the September poll results in these ways:
  • Evenly split opinions on whether to pursue high speed rail and commuter rail and whether to implement toll roads.
  • Weak support for increased user fees or sales taxes to provide property tax relief.
  • Weak support for a mayoral takeover of Milwaukee Public Schools.

The February poll also revealed growing sentiment that jobs are the most important issue facing the region, growing pessimism regarding the direction of the United States government, and virtually no support for using sales tax dollars to pay for a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks.

For full results, go to the poll website.
Anneliese Dickman