2018 Public Opinion Survey Results

To gauge public opinion on important water issues in the region such as long-term water supply planning, water needs, and water quality, Downs & St. Germain Research, on behalf of Tampa Bay Water, conducted a telephone and online survey of 1,200 randomly selected households in the Tampa Bay Water area. This sampling of households is statistically valid for both the tri-county region as a whole, as well as each county individually. Some key findings of the survey include:

  • There has been virtually no change in the past three years in residents’ views on the performance of public officials in meeting drinking water needs for the region. More than one-half of residents served by Tampa Bay Water believe that public officials are adequately meeting the drinking water needs for the region. Of the respondents who disagree, 14% want better water quality, 13% say public officials should adjust the amount of minerals or chemicals, 13% want the taste of water fixed and 12% want to adjust the price.
  • Seventy-two percent of respondents believe there is enough water to meet their needs today and over one-half believe there will be enough water to meet our needs in five years. Those numbers decrease at 10 and 15 years, but are higher from 2015.
  • Water quality remains a priority among residents. The percentage of residents who say they drink tap water is down from 60% in 2015 to 56% in 2018. Fifty-three percent think bottled water is safer to drink than tap water
  • When asked about protecting water resources, 82% of respondents believe there should be more comprehensive rules and regulations to protect the region’s water resources, while fewer than one in ten (8%) disagrees.
  • In addition to questions on the above-mentioned issues, Tampa Bay Water asked several questions regarding the use of reclaimed wastewater for as a possible source of drinking water to gauge public sentiment on future water supply project. Following are results from those questions:
    • Willingness to drink reclaimed water ranges from 33% (clean, blend, and send) to 39% (clean, redeposit, withdraw, treat, and send) depending on the treatment process. This narrow range of results suggest that people think all treatment methods for reclaimed are similar in terms of effectiveness or people do not really understand treatment processes and how they affect the quality of drinking water.
    • Sixty percent of respondents say they care about the source of their drinking water.
    • Respondents are more willing to drink water from existing sources than from reclaimed water. Percentage of residents who are willing to drink tap water from source options include Floridan Aquifer - 69%, river water – 56%, seawater – 53%, reclaimed water – 30%

The results of the survey are being used in the Long-term Master Water Plan selection criteria and will be also to develop the agency’s communications and outreach plans. To see the full survey report, click here.