Press Release

Poll: Access to Safe Drinking Water is a Top Priority Across America

Margie Kelly
mkelly@nrdc.org541-222-9699

WASHINGTON ­– Safe drinking water is a top concern nationwide, according to a new poll released today by NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), with most respondents indicating that lead pipes in drinking water systems are either a crisis or a major problem. The findings confirm ongoing strong bipartisan support for investments in water infrastructure to remove lead pipes, one year after President Biden signed an infrastructure law directing federal dollars to states to repair failing drinking water systems. 

“No one’s tap water should have unsafe levels of lead, no matter where they live or how much money they have. The most basic duty of our government is to ensure that every child and family has safe drinking water. NRDC’s poll confirms that virtually everyone agrees that EPA and water utilities must make sure that every lead pipe is replaced in every state in the next ten years,” said Erik D. Olson, NRDC’s senior strategic advisor for health

The poll found universal support across ages, race, and political ideology for an updated federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lead and copper rule to require water utilities to replace all lead pipes within the next ten years. Nine in ten surveyed agree the rule should be updated, and support is even stronger in states where lead pipes are problematic: Illinois, Missouri, and Wisconsin. Respondents overwhelmingly agreed that no one’s tap water should have unsafe levels of lead and that investments in water safety should be targeted to communities that have been long been underserved. 

Poll findings include: 

  • Access to safe drinking water has broken through as a priority for Americans. Outside of the economy and inflation, ensuring access to safe drinking water for all Americans is seen as the second highest ranking priority nationwide. It ties with reducing crime—which is a striking data point in today’s political environment. 
     
  • Majorities say lead pipes are a major problem and are worried about exposure to lead in their home tap water. Seven in ten Americans nationwide say lead pipes in U.S. drinking water systems are either a crisis or a major problem –and a majority of Americans are worried about exposure to toxic chemicals, such as lead, in their home tap water.  
     
  • There is overwhelming support (across gender, race, age, and political ideology) to update an EPA rule that would require water utilities to replace all of their lead pipes within the next ten years –with nine in ten Americans supporting the proposal and a majority strongly supporting it. Support for updating the EPA’s lead and copper rule is even stronger in states where lead pipes are particularly problematic –such as Illinois, Missouri, and Wisconsin.
     
  • Large majorities support equitable action to address lead in tap water. More than nine in ten support provisions that require water utilities “to ensure no one’s tap water has an unsafe level of lead,” (94% support, 71% strongly support) and nearly the same amount agree that investments in water infrastructure should be “targeted to communities that have been underserved for far too long” (86% agree, 54% strongly agree). 

The poll memo can be found here.

About the poll: Global Strategy Group conducted an online survey of 1,000 respondents nationwide, with oversamples reaching 200 respondents in Illinois, Missouri, and Wisconsin, to better understand Americans’ attitudes on access to safe drinking water and a potential revised EPA rule that would require water utilities to replace all of their lead pipes within the next ten years. The survey was conducted between October 10th and 17th, 2022. 

 ### 

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.​

Join Us

When you sign up you'll become a member of NRDC's Activist Network. We will keep you informed with the latest alerts and progress reports.