As opposed to previous studies of this type, the survey take into consideration the infrastructure used to maintain urban water supplies. Jim Jawits, a UF soil and water science professor, and Julie Padowski, who earned her doctoral degree from UF and is now a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University, conducted the study for 225 U.S. metropolitan areas with populations of more than 100,000.
According to Jawitz, previous results were striking, exactly because they did not consider dams, aquifers and lakes, which provide the back up for citizens. Without adding these to the equation, 47 % of the total population of the U.S. is vulnerable. The study however, brought this number down to 17%
Thanks to infrastructure even people, who live in deserted areas, feel secure and are not afraid of water shortage.
Some of the results were surprising even to the researchers. In Atlanta, where legal battles over water rights with other states have almost prevented the survey from happening, the water access and vulnerability is in the mid-range. In addition, Miami was listed as one of the top ten vulnerable cities.
Padowski searched the online news archives for each city in order to get a clear picture about restrictions and drought. She is certain that although the results of the survey were positive, water conservation practices should become stronger.
The full ranking of the cities can be found at soils.ifas.ufl.edu/hydrology/cities.