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Good Water Quality in the Ozarks? More than 80 Percent of Survey Respondents Say Yes

Table Rock Lake/Photo credit: Ozarks Water Watch/Facebook

Four out of every five people in the Ozarks believe the area’s drinking water is good or very good. That’s the result of a study recently commissioned by Ozarks Water Watch, a local not-for-profit water quality foundation.

This is the second such survey by the organization assessing the opinions and perceptions of residents in the Upper White River Basin region of northwest Arkansas and southwest Missouri. The 81 percent of responders that said water quality is either good or very good represents an increase over the 72 percent in its first study, conducted in 2008.

The survey results are based on 802 completed telephone interviews of local residents, with just over half of those living in northwest Arkansas. The margin of error for the survey is +/-3.5 percent.

David Casaletto, executive director of Ozarks Water Watch, says that there is no consensus on what group is most responsible for promoting clean water but less now think it is the government or business and industry.

“It looks like, it’s more they’re saying this should be a grassroots effort and less of an organized government effort and business effort. And I agree with that. I feel that’s where we’ve kinda headed over the years, too,” Casaletto said.

Casaletto notes activities such as cleaning shorelines of area lakes are spurred by organizations such as Ozarks Water Watch, James River Basin Partnership, and Watershed Committee of the Ozarks, which individuals are supporting.

Two-thirds of those surveyed feel water pollution is a major concern, with urban runoff mentioned as the greatest threat. Casaletto says the problem is not unique to municipalities, but will take the collective work of cities and community organizations to combat.

Just 18 percent of citizens surveyed believe water quality has improved over the past 25 years, while 45 percent say it stayed the same. 37 percent believe it has gotten worse.

Of those surveyed, 53 percent are female, 70 percent are age 50 or older, and 62 percent have used area lakes and rivers in the past two years.