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Americans See Urgent Need to Protect Water Amidst Climate Change in New Walton Family Foundation Poll

October 20, 2020
Poll Released on Imagine a Day Without Water to Draw Attention to the Urgent Need to Invest in Healthy, Safe, and Available Water

Washington, D.C. - A poll released today by the Walton Family Foundation reveals almost universal agreement among Americans that the nation needs to take immediate action on protecting water and addressing climate change, regardless of political affiliation. The poll findings also make it clear that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color are more concerned about the state of the environment and hold a more pessimistic outlook on the future of the environment compared to the rest of the population.

The poll results show most Americans agree (84%) that protecting the health of our water is essential to address climate change. There is also a broad consensus that the U.S. needs to take more action to address climate change.

“When we look at water issues, we see connections to climate change everywhere. Whether it’s flooding, drought, or drinking water, Americans feel real urgency around the deep connection between healthy, available water and the changing climate,” said Moira Mcdonald, Environment Program Director of the Walton Family Foundation. “Americans believe we need government and business to take action, and we are eager to continue to foster these collaborations for bold, effective solutions.”

Working on water-related environmental issues is an urgent concern for Americans, with people prioritizing all three components of water:

  • Protecting oceans is the most urgent concern with 91% saying this is an urgent issue, including 62% who say it is very urgent.

  • Working to protect rivers, lakes, and streams follows, with 91% saying this is an urgent issue, including 60% who say it is very urgent.

  • Accessing clean, safe drinking water is third with 88% saying this is an urgent issue, including 58% who say it is very urgent.

At a time of deep partisan division, 88% of Democrats, 73% of Independents, and 55% of Republicans think humans can take action to reduce the impact of climate change. Almost 9 out of 10 Americans (88%) think companies have an obligation to take more action on environmental issues. Additionally, the majority of those polled (57%) believe the climate conditions will be worse for the next generation.

Younger Americans are leading the charge on environmental issues. They outpace older voters advocating for the U.S. to take more action to address climate change:

  • 75% of voters under 50 think more needs to be done.

  • 68% of young women think the condition of the environment will be worse for the next generation.

  • Notably, there is wide agreement that humans can take action to reduce the impacts of climate change, with 77% of younger men believing that humans can take action on climate change.

Beck Research worked with NORC to field this national survey between September 24 and September 27, 2020, among 1,040 American adults. The sample was drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak® Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of error is +/- 4.05%. To see full poll results visit: The Urgency of Water.

About Walton Family Foundation
The Walton Family Foundation is, at its core, a family-led foundation. Three generations of the descendants of our founders, Sam and Helen Walton, and their spouses, work together to lead the foundation and create access to opportunity for people and communities. We work in three areas: improving K-12 education, protecting rivers and oceans and the communities they support, and investing in our home region of Northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta. In 2019, the foundation awarded more than $525 million in grants in support of these initiatives. To learn more, visit

About the AmeriSpeak Panel
Funded and operated by NORC at the University of Chicago, AmeriSpeak® is a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the US household population. Randomly selected US households are sampled using area probability and address-based sampling, with a known, non-zero probability of selection from the NORC National Sample Frame. These sampled households are then contacted by US mail, telephone, and field interviewers (face to face). The panel provides sample coverage of approximately 97% of the U.S. household population. Those excluded from the sample include people with P.O. Box only addresses, some addresses not listed in the USPS Delivery Sequence File, and some newly constructed dwellings. While most AmeriSpeak households participate in surveys by web, non-internet households can participate in AmeriSpeak surveys by telephone. Households without conventional internet access but having web access via smartphones are allowed to participate in AmeriSpeak surveys by web. AmeriSpeak panelists participate in NORC studies or studies conducted by NORC on behalf of governmental agencies, academic researchers, and media and commercial organizations. For more information, email or visit