August 29, 2005

Manitobans worry most about water quality, survey results show

A majority of Manitobans believe that everyone - from individuals to business and government - has a role to play in reducing pollution in the province's rivers, lakes and reservoirs. A recent survey commissioned by the provincial government found water quality to be the leading environment-related concern, with two-thirds of respondents indicating that they are worried about water pollution. Moreover, 99% agreed with the statement, "It is our responsibility to act today to protect our water resources for future generations."

Although the environment overall falls behind other issues such as health care, agriculture, infrastructure, education and justice as a top-of-mind concern, the majority of Manitobans, when specifically asked, expressed concern about the state of the environment. Fully 80% of those surveyed feel that both a strong economy and a clean environment can be achieved without picking one over the other.

Other highlights of the poll follow.

*When asked to rank responsibility for solving environmental problems, 72 to 80% of Manitobans held the provincial government, business and industry, the federal government and agriculture and forestry industries primarily responsible, while 65% said individual citizens are responsible for solutions.

*Most Manitobans believe laws and regulations to protect the environment have not gone far enough to prevent water pollution (75%), air pollution (62%) and protecting wilderness or natural areas (48%).

*While six in ten Manitobans believe the province's water quality has declined over the past decade, more are optimistic about water quality in the future.

*About 70% of those polled said the government should spend more on developing renewable energy resources, such as ethanol and wind power, and on supporting municipalities to upgrade wastewater treatment.

*Industrial pollution led the perceived risks to water quality by a wide margin (77%), while other threats such as municipal wastewater, agricultural runoff, household chemical dumping and diversion projects such as Devils Lake all scored over 50%.

Manitobans also reported that they have adjusted their behaviour to be more environmentally-friendly. For instance, more than 80% of Manitobans said they reduce their energy use by turning off lights and turning down the thermostat.

The survey, conducted by Prairie Research Associates, polled just over 1,100 Manitobans between March 23 and April 4, 2005. The results are considered accurate to plus or minus 3%, 19 times out of 20.

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