By Ailish Lalor
When we began our project in The Hague, we offered our survey in five different languages (English, Dutch, Spanish, Turkish and Arabic) in order to appeal to the city’s multicultural population. We received 70 responses on our English survey, 7 on the Dutch, and 1 in Arabic. The other two languages did not receive any responses. We were quite disappointed with this, because 15% of the population of The Hague speak Turkish or Arabic as a native language. In this blog post we’ll be examining only the Dutch and English versions for the purposes of accuracy.
The first part of the survey dealt with our respondents’ background. In the English survey, the majority of respondents were between 18-24 years of age, whereas with the Dutch survey, there was an equal spread of ages. The Dutch respondents had mostly lived in The Hague for longer than seven years, whereas the majority of English speaking respondents had recently moved there. The majority of English speaking respondents earned less than €1000 per month, but the Dutch speakers eared between €3000 and €5000 per month. Before coming to The Hague, the English respondents had lived all over the world, but the Dutch speakers had lived exclusively in the Netherlands. This could be explained by the fact that one of our main sources of respondents was the student community of LUC The Hague, a highly international environment. This was probably the source of most of the English responses, while the Dutch responses probably came from outside the university.
Next, we asked our respondents about their usage of tap water. The Dutch respondents all said that they drank tap water in the city they had lived in before The Hague and in The Hague itself. They used it for drinking, cleaning and cooking, with a minority also using it for gardening and other outdoors activities. The majority of English-speaking respondents had drunk the water of the city they lived in before The Hague, and an even higher proportion drank the tap water from The Hague (only one respondent did not). This respondent claimed that tap water in general was unhealthy and unclean. The English respondents used tap water for the same purposes as the Dutch respondents did, with a similarly small number using it for outside activities.
Finally, we asked our respondents how they would like to alter people’s relationship with water. When asked how awareness should be raised about the high water quality in The Hague, most responded by saying that extra information, advertisements, and education on the disadvantages of bottled water would be helpful to those who persisted in drinking bottled water. They said, in general, they would be happy to use recycled waste water for anything other than consumption – agricultural irrigation, outdoor and gardening uses, industry, and household uses excluding drinking. The majority of them were willing to pay an extra tax on water of €200 per year, with some students raising concerns about whether they personally would be able to pay such a tax.
“I think it is fair to tax for drinking water. I just think the taxes for students is much too high (over 230 euro for half a year!). This really hurts students’ finances. There are water tax exemptions but then sometimes you just dont meet the requirements.”
All respondents agreed that polluters of water should have to pay this tax, with the Dutch respondents leaning more towards everyone paying it as well.
Our survey showed us that the majority of respondents believed that the tap water in The Hague was of a high quality and had no problem drinking it. There was a small number of respondents who had lived elsewhere in the world, who had distrusted the water when they first arrived.
“I would say it is also the matter of adaptability. First month in Hague I also didn’t drink it, even though I knew it is safe, my body had to adapt it for it. This is normal part of settling down in new country […] they just have to adapt.”
The majority of respondents believed that if the water authority released more information about the water, this minor problem would be solved. The majority of respondents seemed to trust Dunea and the quality of the water it provided; more here [link Lucas’s post]. It also seems that in light of our failure to bring those whose first languages are not English or Dutch into the water quality conversation, it would be a good idea for Dunea to release its information in a multitude of languages, rather than only Dutch, as is the current state of affairs.