Voters: Tax and spend OK when it comes to water

Survey by water systems manufacturer ITT shows supermajority of American voters support investing in U.S. water infrastructure overhaul.

Candace Lombardi
In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.
Candace Lombardi
2 min read
ITT Corporation

An average of one water main breaks somewhere in the U.S. every two minutes, according to the latest U.S. Geological Survey.

It's no wonder then that 85 percent of American voters agreed the government should invest money to overhaul the nation's water infrastructure, according to a report released Wednesday by water systems manufacturer ITT Corporation.

Voters are also willing to pay for the upgrade.

When asked if they were willing to pay 11 percent more on their monthly water bill "to help ensure continued access to a reliable and consistent supply of clean water," 63 percent of American voters said yes, according to ITT.

"When applied across all American households, this increase is equal to $5.4 billion--or four times the (fiscal) 2009 federal investment in our nation's drinking water systems." ITT said in a statement.

When asked to rank the most important service, 95 percent of U.S. voters put water in first place followed by electricity, heat, Internet, cell phone, landline phone, cable TV, and cooling systems, respectively.

Perhaps most interesting is that the desire for reforming the U.S. water infrastructure remained around 80 percent in favor, regardless of how the data was parsed. Gender, age, party affiliation, income level, region of the country, or whether the respondent came from a water-challenged or water-rich state did not seem to matter.

The survey, which was conducted between August 6, 2010 and September 3, 2010, included 1,003 registered voters from 50 states, as well as 502 industrial and agricultural businesses.

On the corporate side, 57 percent of industrial and agricultural businesses said they were willing to pay more in bills in order to ensure a continued clean and reliable water supply. When asked to name their price, 7 percent was the average acceptable increase, according to the ITT report.

It's fair to note ITT's business interest in the survey results, as water is one of its key manufacturing markets. But the results dovetail with water data released by the research analyst Ethical Corporation in May. That corporate water report found that 99 percent of corporate sustainability managers ranked water as a top priority for businesses in the next 5 to 10 years.