Illinois residents say water quality is important issue

Illinois residents identified water quality as the most important issue in their communities, according to a recent survey of Illinois homeowners conducted by the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS), a division of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The study, funded by the Lumpkin Family Foundation, examined homeowners’ attitudes toward water quality and regulations, and perceived threats to water quality. The majority of homeowners reported water quality was the highest priority of issues facing their community, rated higher than improving public schools, reducing crime, and managing growth and development. “Results of this study drives home the fact that water quality is a very important issue among Illinois citizens,” said Craig Miller, author of the report and leader of the Human Dimensions Research Program at INHS. The study also reports residents are concerned about chemicals from fertilizer, herbicides, and pesticides in both their drinking and surface water throughout the state. Concern about chemical residue from agricultural operations infiltrating domestic water supplies was highest among residents in east-central Illinois. Seventy percent of residents reported they were concerned about the existence of chemical contamination of their drinking water. The study’s report indicates 31 percent of residents of east-central Illinois felt there was enough ground water in their region to support development, and 19 percent of residents in the remainder of the state believed the ground water supply was adequate to support development. “Residents of Illinois are concerned about the amount of ground water in the state and that ground water supplies will not be able to meet demand,” Miller said. Illinois residents also want greater protection of their water resources. Most residents (55 percent) felt there was a need for strong federal laws protecting water quality, and a majority (53 percent) believed the Clean Water Act needs to be strengthened. Fewer than one-quarter (23 percent) of respondents reported they believed there was enough protection of drinking water in Illinois. “Results of this study show that the citizens of Illinois are concerned about the quality and quantity of their drinking water, and have concerns over contaminants in surface water as well,” Miller said. He added “This was the second study we conducted where Illinois residents rated water quality as the most important issue facing their community.” The full report of this study is available through the Illinois Natural History Survey by contacting Dr. Craig Miller, Human Dimensions Research Program, Illinois Natural History Survey (217) 244-5121.

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