Cooking, hand-washing, bathing, fighting fires, sanitation, growing food – there are so many critical ways we use clean water in Madison. But how much do Madisonians really know about their water, and are they willing to act on problems that could threaten the city’s water supply? This summer, Madison Water Utility is reaching out to people across the city in an effort to gauge public awareness and attitudes about water issues with its “Know Your H2O” survey campaign. The survey will measure what Madisonians think about everything from conservation to aging infrastructure to water quality and safety. (Click here to take the survey!)
“The goal is to find out how engaged people in Madison are when it comes to their water,” says Amy Barrilleaux, MWU public information officer. “Are people conserving? Are they concerned about cost or safety? Are they worried about deteriorating water mains? It’s a pretty quick, 5-minute survey, but there are a lot of things we’re hoping to learn from it.”
Madison Water Utility has surveyed customers in the past, but never on such a broad spectrum of issues.
“Our role is public service, so we think the public should have a voice as we plan for the future,” says MWU chief administrative officer Robin Piper. “If we want to protect resources for our children and our grandchildren, we need to be thinking about ways to do that today.”
Piper says access to clean water is likely to be the planet’s top environmental issue in the coming decades.
“We take this resource for granted. A lot of our assets are totally hidden – the water we use in Madison is under the ground, and so is the way we transport it. But as a community, we rely on it for so much. We need people to take an active role in protecting it.”
Madison Water Utility will distribute the survey online and in person at its Water Wagon, which stops at events across the city. Unlike past surveys sent largely to the utility’s 68,000 bill-paying customers, the “Know Your H2O” survey is intended for anyone who lives, works or goes to school in Madison and uses its water.
“I think it’s important that we include everyone who’s a consumer of the water. It’s important to hear from them,” says Piper.