Congress wanted to keep raw sewage out of rivers, lakes and bays when it passed the Clean Water Act.
Forty years later, governments and their tax- and fee-paying constituents face a myriad of costs.
When they prioritize those costs, where does wastewater treatment fit in?
EarthFix and the Portland research firm, Davis, Hibbitts & Midghall (DHM Research) wanted to know. So we included questions on the topic in the survey we asked DHM Research to conduct in July.
We asked a statistically representative sampling of 1,200 residents of the Northwest the following questions and these were their responses:
Q: “Would you be willing to pay more for sewer services if it would improve the quality of your local waterways?”
Among those willing to pay more, here’s the breakdown of how much more they’d be willing to pay:
Would pay 1% to 5% more: 46%
Would pay 6% to 10% more: 11%
Would pay 11% to 20% more: 2%
Would pay 21% or more: 1%
Q: Here are the some basic types of infrastructure. Knowing that financial resources are limited, what priority should (your state) give to repairing and upgrading each?”
Here’s how each of the seven types of infrastructure rated, based on the percentage that considered it an urgent or high priority:
Drinking water systems: 61%
Roads and Bridges: 60%
Wastewater systems: 50%
School buildings: 46%
Electric power grid: 42%
Garbage management: 32%
Next, the poll tested to see if wastewater infrastructure would be a higher priority if people knew more.
Q: “In 2009, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave America’s wastewater infrastructure a D-minus grade. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that as a nation we are currently spending $13 billion annually to maintain wastewater system, but that it takes at least $19 billion annually to meet our projected needs.
“Knowing this, how high of a priority do you believe it should be to upgrade (your state’s) wastewater infrastructure?”
The percentage that considered wastewater infrastructure an urgent or high priority: 63%
The survey, conducted from July 9-14, involved 1,200 respondents. The findings have a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percent. Click here for a more in-depth look at the results.
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