ITT Corp. has announced the results of its “Value of Water Survey,” a nationwide poll that included registered voters and industrial and agricultural businesses, and measures how people value water and their level of awareness of the nation’s aging water infrastructure. The results show that a majority of the American public desires reform, and is willing to pay more now to ensure that they have access to clean water in the generations to come.

The survey found that nearly one in four American voters is “very concerned” about the state of the United States’ water infrastructure. In fact, the nation’s pipes, treatment and delivery systems – everything that gets clean water to homes and takes dirty water away – are crumbling under the combined pressures of population growth, urbanization and chronic underinvestment. Every day in America, 650 water mains break – one every two minutes. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, these breaks and other leaks result in the loss of roughly 1.7 trillion gallons of water every year.

“Water is a necessity, but our survey confirms that most people take access to clean tap water for granted,” says Gretchen McClain, president of ITT Corp.’s Fluid and Motion Control business. “Indeed, water is one critical issue missing from the national infrastructure debate. Yet when presented with the facts, Americans recognize a looming crisis, and are willing to pay their share to properly maintain the systems that bring clean water into their homes.”

ITT’s survey revealed that 63 percent of all American voters are willing to pay an average of 11 percent more on their water bill each month to help ensure continued access to a reliable and consistent supply of clean water. When applied across all American households, this increase is equal to $5.4 billion – four times the FY2009 federal investment in our nation’s drinking water systems. In addition, a majority of industrial and agricultural businesses surveyed are willing to pay an average of 7 percent more per month for the water they consume.

Most survey respondents also said that fixing our insufficient water infrastructure must be a national priority, and is a shared responsibility between individuals, business and the government. “We all have a role to play, starting with more efficient use and conservation of water,” McClain says. “Citizens and businesses need to understand that the delivery of clean water comes at a price, and we need to value that clean water accordingly. Government can enact environmentally effective, economically sustainable and fair water policies that ensure proper investment in the infrastructure for future generations.”

Among the survey findings, ITT learned that:
  • Ninety-five percent of Americans rate water as “extremely important,” more than any other service they receive, including heat and electricity.

  • Eighty percent of voters say water infrastructure needs reform; about 40 percent say “major reform” is necessary.

  • Eighty-five percent of voters and 83 percent of businesses agree that federal, state or local governments should invest money in upgrading water pipes and systems.

  • Seventy-nine percent of voters and 75 percent of industrial and agricultural businesses agree that government officials must spend more time addressing water issues.

The survey results align with the facts about the state of our nation’s water infrastructure and the challenges inherent in resolving this potential crisis:
  • The U.S. population has more than doubled since much of the water infrastructure system was first put in place, and in many areas systems struggle to keep up with increasing demand.

  • By one U.S. Geological Survey estimate, the value of lost water from water systems is $2.6 billion annually. Every year, 10 billion gallons of raw sewage are released into waterways as a result of insufficient infrastructure, polluting the water and increasing the cost of treating and cleaning it.

  • According to the Congressional Budget Office, the gap between what is needed to invest and what is actually invested in the nation’s water infrastructure is about $19 billion each year.