AUSTIN, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A new statewide poll commissioned by the Texas Water Foundation (TWF) shows only 28 percent of Texans indicate they “definitely know” the natural source of their drinking water — the same percentage as 10 years ago.
This result is troubling — especially after a period of record drought — because research shows a direct correlation between knowing where one’s water comes from and one’s willingness to conserve.
“You’d think that a decade of drought would get people to pay attention to where their water comes from,” said TWF Executive Director Carole Baker. “Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that nearly three-quarters of Texans don’t know where their water comes from since the state of Texas has not invested in conservation education. But in North Texas, they’ve proven how increased knowledge can dramatically curb water consumption despite tremendous population growth and lingering drought.”
In 2004, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) commissioned a statewide quantitative study to measure consumer awareness levels, attitudes and behaviors related to water. A major finding was that only 28 percent of Texans said they “definitely knew” the natural source of their drinking water, and research showed a strong connection between knowledge of one’s water source and one’s willingness to conserve. The TWF’s new 2014 poll shows the percentage of people who know where their water comes from hasn’t budged.
Following the 2004 poll, the state adopted the conservation campaign brand “Water IQ: Know Your Water,” which tied knowledge of natural water sources to helpful conservation tips. While no state dollars have been used to fund a comprehensive Water IQ campaign in Texas, the North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) has funded a regional Water IQ campaign every summer since 2006, providing an annual budget of $1 million to $2 million. Despite a population increase of 49 percent in the region since 2000, the NTMWD has been able to curb projected peak day consumption by 200 million to 400 million gallons every summer since 2006.
“North Texas represents a bubble of knowledge and the potential for increased education in a fast-growing state,” said Baker. “It’s our hope that the Texas Legislature will look again at funding statewide conservation education this session. Our state can’t afford to continue this patchwork approach to educating people about something as critical to our quality of life and economy as water.”
In 2014, the TWDB awarded a grant to the TWF to conduct a 10-year follow-up to the baseline study. Both the 2004 and 2014 surveys were conducted by Baselice & Associates, with the most recent poll conducted among 1,103 adult Texans October 5-20, 2014. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
The 2014 survey shows that only 23 percent of Texans said they’ve seen, read or heard anything about what the state of Texas plans to do to meet future water needs.
“That’s really disappointing, especially since just over a year ago voters approved Proposition 6 to transfer $2 billion from the Rainy Day Fund to finance projects in the state water plan,” said Baker. “When it comes to water, we have short attention spans and could use all the education we can get.”