Poll results come as Congress begins hearings on pharmaceuticals in water
Fifty percent of Americans believe federal laws governing drinking water are not strict enough, according to a scientific opinion poll conducted for the Water Quality Association. The release of these results follows a survey in March that showed more than two-thirds of Americans expressing concern over pharmaceuticals in their water. The U.S. Senate has begun public hearings to look into the issue, holding its latest session May 7.
"This is National Drinking Water Week, so there is no better time to respond to the concerns of the American people," said Peter J. Censky, executive director of WQA.
Only 34% of respondents stated that they believed federal drinking water quality laws are "fair." Additionally, 38% said they do not believe their municipality is doing everything it should to make sure water reaching their home is safe to drink.
Taken together, the two polls show that concern about water quality has increased. The first poll, taken in January, was completed before news reports emerged about pharmaceuticals in water. The March survey was conducted in the immediate aftermath of those reports.
Overall, just over two-thirds of Americans—67%—are generally concerned about the quality of their household water supply. In the January poll, 55% showed such concern. Similarly, in January 48% of Americans believed that their drinking water is "as safe as it should be." In the March poll only 39% believed this.
Americans seem to increasingly believe that responsibility for safe drinking water is a public/private partnership. Seventy percent said they believe that home filtration plays a role, along with their municipality, in ensuring safe drinking water.
Many communities have begun responding to concerns about pharmaceuticals in water. In March, a study by the Chicago Tribune found trace concentrations in water collected at City Hall, an elementary school on Chicago's South Side and a suburban public library.
The random sample surveys were conducted by Applied Research-West, Inc.