New watershed survey shows NH residents willing to pay higher fees to improve water quality

May 1st, 2014 by Lynn

    Big Squam Lake from Mt. Morgan. Courtesy Photo

    PLYMOUTH — A new survey shows many Granite Staters and residents of the Piscataqua Watershed are concerned about the level of pollution in our water resources, and would be willing to pay higher fees to ensure water quality is improved.

    The report from researchers at Plymouth State University’s Center for the Environment and the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership (PREP) at the University of New Hampshire, “New Hampshire’s Citizens Value and Use Water in Many Ways: A Preliminary Report of the New Hampshire and Piscataqua Region Water and Watershed Survey,” was compiled from more than 600 responses from randomly sampled New Hampshire residents throughout the State and Maine residents living in the Piscataqua Region. Respondents answered questions about water resource use and value.

    The survey, led by Shannon Rogers, Assistant Professor at PSU, and Jill Farrell, Community Impact Manager from PREP, indicates that 90 percent of New Hampshire respondents are concerned with the level of pollution in local streams, rivers, lakes, and bays; 80 percent understand the connection between clean water resources and economic stability of their community and 70 percent agree that they would be willing to pay higher water and sewer fees to improve the cleanliness of the lakes, rivers, streams, and bays in their community.

    “These findings indicate that New Hampshire residents understand the importance of clean water in our state,” said Rogers. “The fact that such a high percentage of people are willing to pay more to protect surface water quality is an important finding to water resource managers.”

    The survey also shows that 58 percent of New Hampshire residents realize their own actions on their property can have an impact on overall water in the community, and 83 percent agree that they would be willing to take action to reduce storm water pollution, especially if it would help reduce water and sewer bills.

    The authors of the report hope the results are utilized by researchers, resource managers, municipal decision-makers, educators and local, state and federal regulators.

    “It is our hope that this survey will serve as a stepping-stone to further investigation and implementation of actions,” said Rogers and Farrell. “We will be working on several initiatives, including outreach/education, indicators, and geographic visualization of select results.”

    Funding for the report was provided by Plymouth State University’s College of Graduate Studies and the Center for the Environment, and NH EPSCoR’s Ecosystems and Society Project supported by the National Science Foundation. Funding was provided by PREP as well. PREP is part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuary Program, a joint program between local, state and federal agencies established under the Clean Water Act. PREP is supported in part by an EPA matching grant and is housed within the University of New Hampshire School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering.

    Specific findings for the oversample of the PREP region, which includes 10 Maine communities, are contained in the report as well. The complete report and survey can be found at: https://www.plymouth.edu/center-for-the-environment/files/2013/01/Water-Survey-Report-March-2014.pdf.

    An executive summary is also available: https://www.plymouth.edu/center-for-the-environment/files/2013/01/Water-Survey-Report-Exec-Summary-March-2014.pdf.

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