Think Fast: Which Major Environmental Issue do Americans Care Most About?

I realize you may have chosen an answer that is water related based solely on the fact that this blog is called Water Street. If so, you’re clever, and you’re correct! A recent Gallup poll (recently highlighted in Newsweek) revealed that from 2017 to 2019, Americans were more concerned about pollution of drinking water—and rivers, lakes and reservoirs—than any other environmental issue. Water pollution took priority over air pollution, global warming, rain forest conservation and species extinction. More and more people are understanding the importance of local, national and global efforts to ensure a plentiful supply of safe, clean water, as well as the harmful impact that not protecting our water can have on our lives and the future.

But understanding is really just a first step—and it certainly is not enough. Acting on this knowledge and awareness is what will give people greater peace of mind about the integrity of their drinking water and move us toward a world in which everyone has ready access to clean, safe water. This is what the annual celebration of Drinking Water Week—this year taking place from May 5 to 11—is all about. For more than 40 years, the American Water Works Association has been rallying leaders, influencers, industries and individuals around this one week, focusing on awareness and action. Every year, American Water is proud to support their efforts.

I’m particularly excited about this year’s Drinking Water Week theme, because it ties perfectly into the Gallup report. The theme and, consequently, the call to action for all of us is “Protect the source”. Everyone, from big businesses to community groups to households of any size, can play a role in protecting the source through efforts to conserve water and keep water sources pollution-free. There are plenty of tips in past Water Street blogs that can help you take action and do this. Here are a few tips that immediately come to my mind:

  1. Dispose properly. National Prescription Drug Take Back Day was this past weekend. Never put unused medications, cleaners, paints or chemicals down the sink, toilet or storm drains. All of that will “get back to the source.”
  2. Wash, landscape and protect responsibly. Remember that whatever products you use outdoors have the potential for finding their way into water sources. This includes everything from the shampoo you use to wash Fido to lawn fertilizer, and plant foods to pest-control sprays. Look for natural solutions that are environmentally friendly, and consider your “runoff”.
  3. Pick up consistently. If you have an outdoor pet of any kind, always pick up his or her waste. For neighbors not as diligent, have some conversations with them until they too, are a conscientious picker-upper.
  4. Clean up communally. Join a group that volunteers for a day—or several days—to clean up the environment. Whether the area you work in is near water or inland, doing your part to remove trash and contaminants will help decrease water pollution.

In celebration of Drinking Water Week, I also encourage you to go back through our Water Street archives and make a list of other ideas that you can implement at home and work to help keep our water sources pollution-free and free flowing!