Majority Wants U.S. Federal Trust Fund for Clean Water
ALEXANDRIA, Virginia, March 7, 2005 (ENS) -
More than eight in 10 Americans believe that clean and
safe water is a national issue that deserves federal
investment, according to a new poll of 900 adults
conducted jointly by Republican and Democratic polling
Federal legislation that would create a long term,
sustainable, reliable trust fund for clean and safe
water infrastructure received support from what the
pollsters call "an overwhelming majority" of those
surveyed, 86 percent.
More than three-quarters of Americans polled, 77
percent, would rather the federal government invest in
water infrastructure than increase spending on
entitlement programs, 12 percent.
By 67 percent to 26 percent, Americans prefer
spending to guarantee clean and safe water over tax
Results of the poll undertaken jointly by the Luntz
Research Companies, and Penn, Schoen & Berland
Associates were published Wednesday.
Luntz Research is a polling firm relied upon largely
by Republicans. Penn, Schoen's reputation is largely as
a Democratic political polling firm, closely associated
with both President Bill Clinton's administration as
well as the Senate campaign of his wife Hillary. But the
firm also worked for Republican Michael Bloomberg in his
mayoral bid in New York City,
They found that an overwhelming majority of those
interviewed for this survey, 91 percent, agree that
‘‘if, as a country, we are willing to invest over $30
billion dollars a year on highways and more than $8
billion a year on our airways, we certainly should be
willing to make the necessary investments in our
nation’s rivers, lakes and oceans.’
Pollster Dr. Frank Luntz says clean water is an
issue that gets support in red as well as blue states.
Harry Walker Agency)
Commenting on the survey findings, Dr. Frank Luntz said,
“I’ll be blunt … this issue is NOT going to go away.
This is not simply an environmental issue. It is an
issue that is very personal to voters because of the
importance of clean and safe water to their daily lives.
This is not a local issue because Americans understand
that water has no local boundaries. This is one of those
areas where Americans demand that Washington take
The survey found that almost nine in 10 of those
polled, 89 percent, say that “federal investment to
guarantee clean and safe water is a critical component
of our nation’s environmental well-being.”
Dr. Douglas Schoen, senior partner of Penn, Schoen &
Berland Associates observed, “Environmental issues writ
large can sometimes be divisive, but clean and safe
water is not seen by voters as a divisive issue.
Instead, there is overwhelming support from both
political parties for what is seen as a basic need that
has to be protected – clean and safe water for our
generation and for our children’s.”
Dr. Douglas Schoen found that clean water is an
issue that transcends party politics. (Photo
The survey put this question to respondents, "Generally
speaking, which of the following programs do you think
is in greatest need of a dedicated trust fund that would
guarantee federal money to help state and local
governments pay for maintenance and improvements?
Clean and safe water got 71 percent of the positive
responses, roads and highways got 20 percent, while
airports and aviation got a three percent positive
response. This result was found across red states and
“Taxes, of any kind, are never an easy sell," said
Luntz. But, he said, clean water is one area where there
is real support for a federal investment.
"When more than 80 percent of Americans say they are
willing to open their wallets because they think
something is a priority, you know it is important.
Americans are sending their lawmakers a clear message,"
Luntz said, protect our nation’s water or risk getting
left behind by the voters.”
Voters are more likely to vote for Members of
Congress who support legislation to create a Federal
Trust Fund for clean and safe water, and more likely to
vote against those who do not, the survey found.
Nearly eight in 10 voters, 78 percent, describe
themselves as more likely to vote for their Member of
Congress if they learned he or she supported the trust
fund, while 63 percent say they are less likely to vote
for their member if they learn that he or she opposed
The Bush administration has proposed to cut clean
water funding from the EPA’s budget for fiscal year 2006
by $500 million - from $8.1 billion to $7.6 billion.
Most of this reduction would be achieved by a proposed
cut of $360 million (from $1.09 billion to $730 million)
to the agency’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF)
The CWSRF, a loan program that helps local
communities repair and replace aging wastewater
treatment plants, has been the primary source of federal
support for clean water infrastructure projects since
its creation in 1987.
Studies by the EPA, the Congressional Budget Office,
the Government Accountability Office, and the Water
Infrastructure Network estimate a water infrastructure
funding gap exceeding $300 billion over the next 20
Clean fresh drinking water is more important to the
majority of Americans surveyed than any other issue
surveyed. (Photo courtesy
Because of this funding gap, the Association of
Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies (AMSA) believes it is
untenable for the federal government to cut support for
clean water in America.
AMSA is urging Congress to support both full funding
for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund in the
short-term, and a dedicated trust fund to guarantee
clean and safe water in America for the long-term.
Responding to the Bush budget proposal, AMSA’s
Executive Director Ken Kirk said, “This proposed cut is
the wrong measure at the wrong time. Without a
long-term, sustainable federal-state-local partnership,
communities will not be able to tackle essential capital
replacement projects needed to meet federal Clean Water
Act mandates and improve the quality of the nation’s
Kirk points out that Congress has established trust
funds supported by dedicated revenue sources for highway
infrastructure at $30 billion/year, and airport
infrastructure at $8 billion/year. AMSA believes these
trust funds provide a strong precedent for moving
forward with a similar fund for clean and safe water.
“Clean and safe water is certainly as important to
the nation’s economic and public health as our highways
and airports,” said Kirk.
AMSA, together with other stakeholder groups, will
work "aggressively" with Congress and the Bush
administration, said Kirk, to ensure full funding for
the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and to establish a
trust fund dedicated to clean and safe water in America.