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What Floridians Think About Water

Water in Citrus Grove

Microjet irrigation of citrus

Bountiful freshwater sources, heavy rainfall, and oceans, Florida is unique in its seemingly endless water resources. However, water quality and quantity are a crucial issue in Florida, as the need to balance agricultural needs, business and development needs, the needs of the natural environment, and public use is becoming more challenging as the state’s population continues to grow. University of Florida Center for Public Issues Education (PIE) conducted the fourth-annual public opinions survey on water issues.

Floridians acknowledge the importance of water.

Based on more than 500 responses, Florida residents acknowledge the importance of water. Water concern was only preceded by healthcare and closely followed by the economy and public education. More than half of Floridians identified water as an issue of extreme importance. While many residents prioritized water as important, fewer were willing to make sacrifices in their home and lifestyle to conserve water.

Only 34% of the survey participants said they would volunteer for water cleanup events and even fewer would join a water conservation organization. The majority of residents usually keep the water on when doing the dishes, but more than 60% turn off the tap when it comes time to brush their teeth. About half of them have water-efficient toilets and showerheads, but only 15% use rain barrels to collect water for irrigation. Residents can make the most improvements in their home landscapes, according to PIE Center survey results. Forty-three percent of Floridians do not use low-water consuming plants, compared to 31% who do and 23% who are unsure.

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 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,” he said. “This issue isn’t going away any time soon, and our public wants to be informed and engaged in water conservation.”

Residents can make the most improvements in their home landscapes,  according to PIE Center survey results.

 Forty-three percent of Floridians do not use low-water consuming plants, compared to 31 percent who do and 23 percent who are unsure. Most will turn off their sprinklers when the weather is rainy or showers are forecasted.

Fourteen percent of Floridians thought that turfgrass lawns needed too much water to maintain, though 56% neither agreed nor disagreed. Nearly two-thirds of residents said they appreciated when homes have well-maintained yards, and 54% believed that having a healthy turfgrass lawn is important for maintaining a property’s economic value.

According to the statewide survey, 72% of Floridians are responsible for maintaining a lawn. Of those residents, 52% have turfgrass and 46 percent owned irrigation systems. Roughly half of the high-water users reported monthly water bills between $50 and $100.