PHILADELPHIA – Recent environmental catastrophes on Pennsylvania’s eastern and western borders serve as reminders that vigilance is essential for maintaining and improving the commonwealth’s water infrastructure. Pennsylvania’s treasured network of rivers and streams were threatened after a chemical spill in the Delaware River and the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.
In a recent survey of 700 likely voters released today by the National Association of Water Companies (NAWC), Pennsylvanians on both sides of the political aisle have made it clear they support maintaining the flexibility that local governments have been given to choose the best solution for managing their drinking water and wastewater systems.
The survey found that nearly two-thirds (66%) of Pennsylvanians want municipalities to have flexibility to negotiate the sale of water systems with private companies, as long as it remains regulated by the state and is in the best interests of customers. A further 68% support private investment in local water systems, as long as consumers continue to get reliable and safe drinking water.
“Pennsylvania’s rate-regulated water companies invest more than $800 million annually to help update the state’s critical water and wastewater infrastructure and to provide safe and reliable service,” said NAWC President and CEO Robert F. Powelson. “These survey results illustrate that Pennsylvanians understand that government cannot always do it alone – and they want to make certain that those municipalities who need help running their systems continue to have the flexibility to do so. Our communities welcome the fact that these water companies are investing hundreds of millions of dollars every year into the systems they operate across Pennsylvania, thus ensuring access to safe, affordable and reliable drinking water.”
Pollster James Lee from Susquehanna Polling and Research noted the survey results show that the support crosses party lines and all demographics: “Pennsylvanians are clear in their support for local government flexibility to allow their local elected officials to make the decisions about water management that are right for them and their communities. They see private investment as an important tool in their toolbox of possible solutions.”
The poll also showed overwhelming support for the creation of a state program that would allocate state funding towards assistance to low-income households struggling to afford their water bills. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of Pennsylvanians support the program known as LIHWAP the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program. LIHWAP would provide state subsidies to qualifying low-income households to help them afford their water and sewer bills.
The poll was conducted by Susquehanna Polling and Research between May 2 and May 8, 2023, with 700 likely voters in Pennsylvania. The margin of error is +/- 3.7% at the 95% confidence level.