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Determinants of Water Consumption Choices: a Canadian Perspective

Congress: 2008
Author(s): Vic Adamowicz, Alan Krupnick, Pierre Payment
Adamowicz is at Department of Rural Economy, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 2H1. Dupont (contact author) is at Department of Economics, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, L2S 3A1. Krupnick is Senior Fellow and Director, Qualit

Keyword(s): tap water, bottled water, home filtered water, health risks,
AbstractIntroduction In 2004 we undertook an Internet-based survey and used the data to calculate the willingness-to-pay for reductions in morbidity and mortality risks from tap water consumption. This work revealed the great concerns that many Canadians have about the safety of their tap water. Data collected in the survey also indicated that large numbers of Canadians willingly choose to drink water that is either bottled or filtered in their home. Objective, Methods, Results The current research investigates the determinants of Canadians’ water consumption choices. In our survey we asked respondents to identify in percentage terms their total drinking water consumption according to one of three sources: tap water, bottled water, and home filtered water (either some type of container or an in-tap filter device). Our working hypothesis is that, as we move from individuals who consume 100 % tap water to individuals who consume 100 % home filtered water, we are observing an increasing concern about one’s tap water consumption choices and an increasing desire to “control” one’s own individual source water quality. Accordingly, from the raw data we identified four different groups according to their responses: mostly tap water drinkers, convenience water drinkers, mostly bottled water drinkers, mostly filtered water drinkers. Mostly tap water drinkers consumed at least 80% of their water directly from the tap and no filtered water. Convenience water drinkers consumed all three types of water with no more than 40 % of any type. Mostly bottled water types consumed at least 80 % of their total water consumption from bottles with no tap, while mostly filtered water types consumed at least 80 % of their total water consumption from home filtering devices with no tap water. \ We examine which characteristics are most likely associated with a respondent being a tap/bottled/filtered water drinker. Compared to the other types, tap water drinkers are less likely to have had taste, pollution or pesticide problems with their municipal water supply, feel that tap water presented no health problems, are less likely to have stomach related problems such as ulcers, acid reflux, and irritable bowel syndrome, less likely to have children under 6 in the household, more likely to be female and more likely to be French speaking. In contrast, mostly home filtered and bottled water users have higher income levels, are more concerned about health risks in tap water, have a greater concerns that E coli and pesticides are present in tap water, have greater likelihood of stomach problems, have children under 6 years of age, and problems with the taste of one’s tap water. Conclusions We are currently working to include localised information relating to the frequency of poor quality water incidents (defined as boil water orders), as well as information about whether the respondent lives in a rural or urban setting. These results are of interest to policy makers and water utility managers alike, particularly in light of current discussions about treatment options, infrastructure renewal, and consumer acceptability.
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