Skip to main content

Researchers: Floridians tap water as a major concern

A tomoato being hand-washed in a kitchen sink.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Floridians say the state’s water resources are just as important as healthcare and the economy, according to researchers from the UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources.

PIE Center researchers presented 523 state residents with a list of 10 issues. Only two-tenths of a percent separated what the respondents tagged as the three most critical issues.

When asked to describe the significance of each issue between “not at all important” to “extremely important,” 81.5 percent of Floridians deemed healthcare highly or extremely important, compared to water at 81.4 percent and the economy at 81.3 percent. Fifty-two percent of Floridians believed that water was an extremely important issue.

The fourth-annual survey, administered by assistant professor Alexa Lamm, asked Floridians about the rights, responsibilities, attitudes and behaviors associated with water quantity and quality. Responses are weighted to be representative of the entire state, according to 2010 Census information.

“We’ve long known how significant water is to the state of Florida, and it’s great to see the public recognizes the importance of it as well,” said Lamm, a faculty member in the department of agricultural education and communication.

Floridians in the survey reported a high level of engagement in a variety of water conservation habits, but were more likely to save water indoors than in their home landscapes.

More than half of state residents use water-efficient toilets and low-flow showerheads, and at least three-quarters of Floridians run their dishwashers and washing machines only when they are full. But less than 30 percent indicated they used low-water consuming plants, reclaimed water or rain barrels in their landscape.

More than half of Floridians remained neutral when researchers asked if turfgrass lawns and landscape irrigation have a positive effect on the environment, which UF/IFAS Senior Vice President for agriculture and natural resources Jack Payne said signals an opportunity to educate and inform residents about how to conserve water when caring for their landscapes.

“These results demonstrate that Floridians are thirsty for knowledge about how they can conserve this vital natural resource,” Payne said. “This issue isn’t going away any time soon, and our public wants to be informed and engaged in water conservation.”

For more research results and information about the survey, go to


By: Laura Bernheim, 352-273-0793,


Source: Alexa Lamm, 352-392-6545,