Water Use / Resources Survey Results
During January and February 2009 the Prince George’s County Planning Department conducted a telephone and web-based survey of community organization representatives, business and institutional representatives, and other interested individuals related to water resources in the county. The objective of the survey was to collect information and opinions from a broad population throughout the county in order to better understand experiences and opinions related to water resources issues. Organizations contacted for the survey included homeowner’s, apartment and condominium associations, political groups, senior citizens clubs, environmental, recreational, and historic protection organizations. Participants were asked questions related to drinking water, stormwater and wastewater.
To conduct the telephone survey the Planning Department contacted a roster of approximately 575 civic organizations compiled in an outreach database. Attempts to contact these groups were made at various times of day, over a two-week period, to allow for maximum success. Representatives were offered the option of accessing the survey online if they did not wish to participate over the telephone.
A problem encountered in conducting the survey was the validity of the contact list. Over one hundred twenty-five of the organizations had no phone number listed and another 56 had numbers that were incorrect or had been disconnected.
Through the telephone survey, 48 contacts provided information to complete the survey. An additional four surveys were completed through the project website. Therefore the results presented below are based on a sample size of 52 separate completed surveys.
Roughly 90% of respondents have municipal/WSSC water supply.
- Approximately half of survey participants drink bottled water
- More than half say their biggest concern is water quality/safety
- Approximately 20% of respondents had no problems or concerns regarding their drinking water, 10% are concerned with cost
- Approximately 60% had no problems with taste, odor, color, water pressure, quantity or infrastructure
- Taste is cited as sometimes a problem by 20% and often a problem by 10% of survey participants
- Smell is cited as sometimes a problem by 25% and often a problem by less than 4% of respondents
- Color is noted as sometimes a problem by roughly 25% and often a problem by 5%
- 80% believe that their tap water source is affordable and a good value
- More than 90% make at least some effort to conserve water with at least one third going to great lengths to conserve
- 1/3 of those surveyed would like to learn how to conserve more water
- More than 75% of respondents have streams, creeks or rivers nearby and 30% experience flooding of nearby creeks, streams or rivers
- Half of the survey participants don’t use any method of storm water management at home
- Approximately 20% use rain barrels
- Other methods of storm water management used include rain gardens and permeable pavers
- Approximately half of respondents know which watershed they live in
- Roughly 40 % are aware of specific locations of poor drainage in roads or parking lots
- Approximately 1/4 had no concerns regarding storm water, approximately one quarter were concerned with protecting the Bay and other waterways, other concerns included flooding, system maintenance and visible trash
- Approximately one quarter of respondents use septic systems
- Roughly 40% are concerned with protecting the Bay and other waterways, one quarter had no concerns, other concerns included system maintenance and cost
- Roughly three quarters are aware of the concept of grey water reuse, approximately one third would try it for landscaping and /or car washing, less than are 10% willing to use grey water for toilet flushing
- More than 2/3 had no problems with infrastructure - those that had problems were primarily sewer odors and backed-up or broken pipe
Main Purpose of Better Management of Water Resources
Half of participants believe the main purpose of better management should be to protect and maintain the natural environment. One quarter believe the main purpose is to conserve a valuable and scarce resource for a growing population.
The results of this survey will assist the Planning Department to achieve its objective, in part through outreach and interaction with Prince George’s County stakeholders, of developing sustainable and achievable land use policies and goals to preserve the county water resources, to protect public health and to continue to encourage economic growth. The survey highlights that a major concern of the residents of Prince George’s County is protecting the Chesapeake Bay as a regional resource and the county’s own natural resources. Additionally, the survey shows the need for, and stakeholder interest in, additional public education on water conservation, reuse, and residential stormwater management applications. The survey provides the Planning Department and other Prince George’s County agencies with information regarding the general extent of areas with perceived ongoing stormwater management or sewer problems. It also shows that while overall drinking water quality is high, approximately one quarter of consumers sometimes experience problems with taste, odor and color.