Why New Jerseyans are worried about what’s in their water
Are you concerned about the quality of your drinking water in New Jersey? A new poll shows the majority of residents are.
According to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton poll, 52 percent of New Jersey residents indicated they are concerned about the water they drink, while 33 percent reported that they are very concerned. Twenty-four percent are not concerned at all.
Lead in drinking water has drawn increased attention recently because of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, that happened after the city switched from the Detroit system to the Flint River as a cost-saving measure in 2014.
Hitting closer to home, water fountains were turned off at 30 schools in Newark on March 9 after elevated levels of lead were found. Beginning this week, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection will begin testing for lead at all 67 school locations in Newark, starting with the 30 that first recorded elevated levels of lead.
The poll also reveals that most New Jersyans think water pollution is at least a somewhat serious problem, with 25 percent indicating it is very serious and 37 percent believing it is somewhat serious.Twenty-eight percent don't feel it is too serious.
And while people are worried, they aren't as concerned as they have been in the past.
"These numbers have gone down over time. We have been asking similar questions about water quality for decades in the Garden State," said Ashley Koning, assistant director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University.
When it comes to the water flowing from their pipes into their homes, most New Jerseyans report being satisfied.
Only 14 percent rate their tap water as poor, with 19 percent rating it as excellent. Forty-five percent rate is as good.
Geography and socioeconomic backgrounds though could be playing a part in how people feel about the drinking water in their homes.
"This differs, based on whether residents have city or well water, where they live, and a bunch of individual factors," Koning said.
And despite most saying they are fine with the tap water in their homes, only 21 percent indicated they drink right from the tap. Thirty-seven percent said they use bottled water and 32 percent use filtered water.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5, Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.