New Yorkers Prefer Water Improvements to Subways: Survey

Water and wastewater upgrades top the wish list for infrastructure improvements by more than four in five New Yorkers, surpassing subway lines in importance, according to survey results released today by Xylem Inc.

The water company whose pumps helped clean tunnels and homes flooded by Hurricane Sandy said the survey showed that 82 percent of residents want New York to spend more on water systems. Almost two-thirds said they’re willing to pay higher rates to help complete such projects, Xylem said.

“Most people didn’t used to put water at the top of their issues but after this last year more people are saying, ‘This could impact me at some level,’ and the results obviously showed that from the survey,” Chief Executive Officer Gretchen McClain said today in an interview in New York.

Sixty-three percent of New Yorkers surveyed said they would pay an average of $8.30 monthly for upgrades to the water system, parts of which “are 150 years old, making them some of the oldest in the world,” Xylem said in a statement.

New York residents use an average of 1.2 billion gallons daily, said White Plains, New York-based Xylem, which has a range of products and technologies that transport, treat and test water and wastewater.

The survey of 250 New Yorkers follows Xylem’s poll last August of 1,008 Americans, more than half of whom estimated their daily water use at levels closer to 50 percent of actual totals. Almost nine of 10 said the U.S. water infrastructure needs reforming compared with 80 percent two years earlier.

That’s not surprising “given the number of stories in the paper today about our aging infrastructure, about main breaks, about climate change and significant storms and how they’re impacting the way we live,” McClain said.

She made her comments the same day that across the Hudson River in Hoboken, N.J., two water mains broke, causing flooding and leaving parts of the city without water.

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