Survey shows water conservation awareness, agency reports

A poll commissioned by the San Diego County Water Authority shows widespread awareness of water supply challenges, strong backing of water conservation measures and mandatory restrictions, and continuing support for developing additional local water supplies, the water agency reports.

In another finding, a majority of respondents favor adding highly treated recycled water to the region’s drinking water supply.

“This survey shows the people in San Diego County are aware and concerned about our continued water supply challenges,” said Claude A. “Bud” Lewis, chair of the water authority’s board of directors. “It also shows that residents support investment in projects to enhance the region’s water supply reliability.”

Rea & Parker Research conducted the public opinion survey in March.

Among findings from the survey:

• Ninety-five percent of respondents said they were aware that San Diego County faces a potentially significant water shortage, with 87 percent seeing the causes of this problem as long-term.

• Respondents supported government action to impose mandatory water cutbacks in household water use by a ratio of nearly 2-to-1. Fifty-nine percent agreed or strongly agreed with such action, while 31 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed.

• Ninety-two percent of respondents see using water efficiently as a civic responsibility.  Water conservation was seen as a duty on par with preventing litter/pollution and with recycling used materials.

• Confidence in the long-term reliability of San Diego County’s water supply has declined since 2006. Sixty-five percent believe  water supplies are either very reliable or somewhat reliable, down from 77 percent three years ago.

• Pursuing seawater desalination continues to be seen as the single most important thing that can be done to ensure a safe and reliable water supply, but conservation has doubled in importance since 2006.

• Of the 85 percent of respondents who believe that seawater desalination is an important part of the region’s water supply reliability, nearly 60 percent indicated support for a general obligation bond to fund water supply projects, even if it added as much as $20 per month to their property taxes; 27 percent indicated opposition.

• Support for using recycled water as part of the region’s drinking water supply has increased since 2005, the last time it was asked in the water authority’s public opinion poll. About 63 percent of respondents in 2009 favored adding recycled water that had received advanced treatment to drinking water supplies, compared to 28 percent in 2005.

The water authority conducts research studies to determine county residents’ knowledge and attitudes regarding water supply issues.  This year’s survey participants, contacted by telephone via random-digit dialing, included 700 adults representative of the population within the authority’s service area. The margin of error was +/- 3.7 percent.  

The full public opinion poll report is available at: www.sdcwa.org/about/pdf/PublicOpinionSurvey/2009_SurveyReport.pdf

The water authority, a public agency, is a wholesale supplier of water from the Colorado River and Northern California. Ramona Municipal Water District is one of the authority’s 24 member agencies.

   
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