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Gallup: Low-income, minority Americans worry most about drinking water pollution

By
Andrew V. Pestano
Volunteers distribute cases of water at City Hall in Flint, Mich., on March 12, 2016, as lead in the city's water piples made tap water undrinkable. A Gallup poll shows that 63 percent of Americans, the majority of them minorities and people who earn less than $30,000 a year, worry a great deal about pollution in drinking water. File Photo by Molly Riley/UPI
Volunteers distribute cases of water at City Hall in Flint, Mich., on March 12, 2016, as lead in the city's water piples made tap water undrinkable. A Gallup poll shows that 63 percent of Americans, the majority of them minorities and people who earn less than $30,000 a year, "worry a great deal" about pollution in drinking water. File Photo by Molly Riley/UPI | License Photo

March 31 (UPI) -- A Gallup poll shows 63 percent of Americans -- mostly low-income and minorities -- "worry a great deal" about pollution in drinking water, a 2 percent increase from last year and the most since 2001.

The poll released Friday shows that in 2016, 61 percent of Americans worried about pollution in drinking water, which was a 6 percent increase from 55 percent in 2015. In the 2017 poll, about four in five nonwhites said they were concerned about pollution in drinking water, compared to 56 percent of whites.

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In income groups, 75 percent of Americans who earn less than $30,000 a year are concerned about pollution in drinking water, compared to 64 percent of those who earn between $30,000 to $74,999 and 56 percent of those who earn $75,000 and more.

The poll also shows 57 percent of Americans "worry a great deal" about pollution in rivers, lakes and reservoirs, a 1 percent increase from 2016, which itself was a 9 percent increase from 2015's 47 percent.

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The Gallup poll comes two months after Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality announced that while lead levels in Flint have decreased below federal action limits, the water is still not yet potable.

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"The continued elevated levels of concern about both types of water pollution come as President Donald Trump signed an executive order to roll back environmental regulations put in place by his predecessor to protect American waterways from pollution," Gallup wrote in a statement. "With an ongoing high-profile case of contaminated drinking water in Flint, Americans' concern about the problem of drinking-water pollution has not diminished in recent years."

Water pollution remains Americans' greatest concern among other several environmental issues such as climate change, air pollution, loss of tropical rainforests, and extinction of plant and animal species.

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The Gallup poll, which has a 4 percent margin of error, is based on telephone interviews of about 1,018 U.S. adults conducted from March 1 through March 5.

This week, Michigan said it would spend $87 million to replace Flint's contaminated water pipes. The replacement is scheduled for completion by 2020.

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