Survey says Californians want groundwater protection

SACRAMENTO
July 17, 2014 12:24pm
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•  California is only state without comprehensive statewide groundwater management

•  “California’s future is increasingly dependent on effective management of our groundwater supplies”


Californians want immediate action to protect the state’s dwindling groundwater supplies, according to a new poll paid for by the California Water Foundation and released today by the Groundwater Voices Coalition.

The coalition says the survey shows support for a package of proposals pending before the Legislature that include expanded local authority to manage groundwater supplies, backed by statewide standards.

According to the poll, 89 percent of the respondents view groundwater as "very important" to California's water supply, and more than 78 percent support "major changes" in groundwater management.

Nearly the same number say the state and local communities should manage groundwater supplies carefully to ensure the groundwater is available when it is needed most. Ninety-one percent of voters also support storing more water underground during wet years so it will be available during dry years.

Republicans and Democrats largely agreed on the crisis and need for major changes. For example, 80 percent of Republicans and 80 percent of Democrats surveyed agreed that “allow(ing) anyone to take water from wells without considering impacts on others” was a cause of the groundwater problem. And 81 percent of Democrats and 79 percent of Republicans support “giving local communities increased ability to manage their local groundwater.”

Among Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islander voters that support was higher at 87 percent of Hispanics and 89 percent of Asian Pacific Islanders saying they support “giving local communities increased ability to manage their local groundwater,” compared with 78 percent of white voters.

Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islander voters were also more likely than white voters to support “major changes now in the way we manage groundwater supplies.” According to the survey, 85 percent of Hispanic voters supported “major changes,” compared with 79 percent of Asian Pacific Islanders and 76 percent of whites.

"These results should help reinforce and expedite current legislative efforts to provide a statewide framework to better manage and protect our critical groundwater resources," says California Water Foundation Executive Director Lester Snow. “California’s future is increasingly dependent on effective management of our groundwater supplies. The drought underscores the urgent need to provide local communities with the tools they need to effectively manage their groundwater."

Groundwater is used to meet approximately 40 percent of the state’s water demands in an average year and up to 60 percent or more during droughts. In some regions, groundwater provides 100 percent of the local water supply.

Yet, California is the only state without comprehensive statewide groundwater management programs.

The California Water Foundation describes itself as an “initiative of Resources Legacy Fund, with primary funding from S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and Pisces Foundation, and additional support from David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Walton Family Foundation, and Colleen and Robert D. Haas.”

Methodology

From July 6-9, 2014, Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates and Public Opinion Strategies jointly completed 1,201 telephone interviews with California voters likely to vote this November. Interviews were conducted on landline and wireless phones. 800 interviews were conducted statewide and an oversample of 400 interviews was conducted in the Central Valley; data has been statistically weighted to reflect the true geographic distribution of likely voters across the state. The margins of sampling error for the statewide sample is +/-3.5 percent at the 95 percent confidence level and +/- 4.6 percent for the Central Valley sample; margins of error for population subgroups within each sample will be higher. Due to rounding, not all totals will sum to 100 percent.


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