Drought, water shortages on voters’ minds

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Californians believe the water shortage is serious by a whopping 94 percent in the latest Field Poll, released Thursday.

The state’s drought-driven water woes aren’t lost on California voters. Nearly 19 out of 20 voters (94 percent), in a Field Poll released Thursday, said the state’s water shortage is serious. Sixty-eight percent described the situation as extremely serious. During the last long-term drought in 1977, only 51 percent believed the situation was extremely serious.

Few Californians have faith that the state has enough water storage. Just 10 percent believe the state can store enough water to meet its needs. More than four times as many (43 percent) think water storage is inadequate while another 38 percent think water storage is just barely adequate. Voters in the Central Valley (48 percent) and San Francisco Bay Area (50 percent) are among those most likely to see the state’s storage as inadequate.

The idea of relaxing government regulations on developing new water supplies on parklands and forest reserves is gaining traction with 51 percent supporting the idea. Voters were more mixed in relaxing environmental regulations protecting fish, the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento-San Joaquin river delta. Fifty percent supported the idea with 46 percent opposed.

Voters in the Central Valley were in favor of bypassing environmental regulations by the largest margin. Sixty-one percent of Central Valley voters favored allowing the state to bypass environmental regulations if farmers and residents face serious shortages. By contrast, just 33 percent of those living in the Bay Area supported bypassing environmental regulations.

Voters continue to support voluntary cutbacks over mandatory water rationing by a 61-34 percent margin. Mandatory rationing has seen a seven-point surge in the last year however. Support for voluntary measures over mandatory rationing is wide across the state, but has the most support in Southern California (67) and the Central Valley (63 percent) percent as opposed to the Bay Area at 55 percent.

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