July 29, 2015

Statewide Poll Shows Concern Over Drought Increasing, Support for Long-Term Investments in Infrastructure, Heaviest Water Users Should Pay More

 SACRAMENTO — A majority of Californians believe we have not invested sufficiently and are willing to pay more to fund better infrastructure to respond to the current drought and prepare for future droughts, according to a statewide poll released by the California Water Foundation today that assessed the opinions of 1,000 California voters regarding the ongoing drought and potential policy responses.

“These results indicate significant public support for investing in long-term solutions to California’s water crisis,” said California Water Foundation Executive Director Lester Snow. “They are encouraging and suggest that California voters are ready and willing to support major and permanent changes in how California manages its water.”

“Furthermore, voters clearly feel that lack of infrastructure worsens the impacts of the ongoing drought – and are willing to pay even at the cost of higher water bills to invest in upgrades,” Snow said. “Voters indicated strong support for elected officials taking more action, and would support legislators who support reform.”

The Water Foundation commissioned research firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates to conduct a telephone survey on landlines and cell phones with 1,000 randomly selected California voters from July 6-13, 2015.

Among the key specific findings of the survey are the following:

  • Public concern about the drought is extremely high and intensifying. Voters were asked to rate how personally concerned they are about the drought in California, where zero means “not concerned at all” and 100 means “extremely concerned.” Half (50%) gave a rating of 90 or higher – 23 percent gave the highest rating possible of 100.
  • Overwhelming majorities see the drought’s effect on both the environment and agriculture as very serious problems. Voters showed nearly equal concern for the drought’s impact on the environment (85%) and agriculture (81%).
  • Voters see inefficiency and lack of investment in infrastructure as the major causes of the current drought, much more so than environmental regulations. More than one-third (37%) chose lack of investment in infrastructure, while another third (35%) selected wasteful use of water. Only about one in ten (11%) chose environmental regulations that limit the use of water as the most important cause of the drought.
  • California voters are willing to invest in water infrastructure even at the cost of higher water bills. Nearly four in five (79%) voters said they prefer investment in infrastructure over low water rates.
  • More than 60 percent support a water fee of up to $4 per month. Seven in ten (72%) support $1 per month. A majority of voters (55%) say they are willing to pay a fee on their monthly water bill “to address the impacts of droughts and improve local, regional and state water supply and water quality.”
  • Voters strongly believe the heaviest water users should pay more. Changing state law to allow higher rates for the biggest water users is broadly popular, especially in Southern California.
  • Nearly three-quarters (74%) of voters favor charging heavy water users more to encourage conservation.

Survey Methodology

The survey was conducted by bipartisan research firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates. From July 6-13, 2015, they conducted a telephone survey on landlines and cell phones with 1,000 randomly selected California voters. The margin of sampling error is +/-3.1% at the 95% confidence level; margins of error for population subgroups within each sample will be higher. Due to rounding, not all totals will sum to 100 percent.

About the California Water Foundation

The California Water Foundation’s (CWF), an initiative of the Resources Legacy Fund, is committed to achieving a sustainable water supply to meet the needs of California’s farms, cities, and environment today and into the future. CWF supports innovative projects and policies and brings together experts, stakeholders, and the public to achieve 21st century solutions. For more information, please visit CaliforniaWaterFoundation.org




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