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Poll: California’s drought heavy on the mind

Due to the low water levels in Folsom Lake, the old Gold Rush town of Mormon Island is exposed.
Due to the low water levels in Folsom Lake, the old Gold Rush town of Mormon Island is exposed. pkitagaki@sacbee.com

California’s punishing drought has taken a firm grip on the electorate’s conscience, with more than 3 in 4 voters describing the state’s water shortage as extremely serious, according to a new poll.

The Field Poll, released Tuesday, follows months of mandatory water restrictions, public relations campaigns and media focus on the drought.

Seventy-six percent of registered voters describe the drought as “extremely serious,” an uptick from earlier this year, according to the poll. Eighteen percent of voters say the drought is “somewhat serious.”

“This is the highest degree of concern about state water shortages that we’ve ever seen,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the poll. “Last year there was concern, but you add another year to a dry year, and concerns have just continued to rise.”

He said, “The public is getting the message, and also starting to feel the effects of it on their own lives.”

This is the highest degree of concern about state water shortages that we’ve ever seen.

Mark DiCamillo, director of the poll

Majorities of voters say residential and agricultural water users are both doing their part to help the state get through the drought, but they hold a dimmer view of business and commercial water users. Just 38 percent of voters say those water users are doing their part, compared to 47 percent who say they aren’t.

Nearly 6 in 10 voters – 58 percent – say they have been affected “somewhat” or a “great deal” by the drought, but its impact has been hardest felt in the Central Valley. There, 70 percent of voters report the drought impacting them somewhat or a great deal.

Yet Central Valley voters are least likely to call for homeowners to replace lawns and turf with drought-tolerant landscaping, according to the poll.

Fifty-five percent of voters statewide say it is “very important” for homeowners to change their landscapes, compared to 44 percent of voters in the Central Valley.

David Siders: 916-321-1215, @davidsiders

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