San Bernardino County residents support investments in water supply reliability

By on May 8, 2018

California Water News Daily survey shows support for investor projects facilitating more drinking water

Residents of San Bernardino County have definitive opinions on the future development of water projects and conservation practices as indicated by a recent email survey conducted by California Water News Daily in the last six weeks. The survey clearly indicated that the respondents favor a combination of new water resources development and conservation to better prepare for the state’s frequent drought conditions.

Sixty-two percent of respondents favor the two-pronged approach for water supply reliability. However, they favor new water resource development over the imposition of more permanent conservation restrictions. Nearly 75 percent indicated they support efforts to obtain new water resources for Southern California. Seventy-one percent said they support the sustainable use of available groundwater resources for area residents.

New sources of water in California is a much-discussed and debated topic in the state, especially in the much drier southern portions of the state. In addition to efforts to obtain new water resources within the state, 67 percent of those polled want new water resources developed to meet the current and future housing needs in the state in light of California’s current housing shortage.

“California is faced with a severe housing shortage and home builders face multiple obstacles in their efforts to remedy this crisis,” said Carlos Rodriguez, CEO of the BIA Baldy View Chapter. “One of the biggest hurdles is in guaranteeing enough potable water to support the demands of new housing. Projects like those favored by the respondents of the CWND’s survey are viable and achievable solutions to providing the water needed to help overcome the current housing shortage in San Bernardino County and the Golden State.”

CWND-surveyed residents indicated an 85 percent support for the state of California to do as the state of Arizona is currently doing – pumping their Colorado River water allocation into underground basins to store it for future use. Commonly known as groundwater banking, this is a method of saving-up water during the wet years for use during the dry years. Beyond groundwater banking Colorado River water, surveyed residents are in favor of the sustainable use of available groundwater resources in Southern California with 71 percent support, 22 percent undecided and virtually no one opposing the idea.

Two other projects to obtain new water resources both received survey scores above 80 percent. The $7 billion state water bond approved by voters in 2014 included $2.7 billion for new water storage facilities. However, the state has yet to allocate any of those funds for multiple proposed projects. CWND’s survey respondents indicated an 84 percent support for new water storage projects, such as dams and reservoirs to be constructed and used to capture excess runoff water for future use. Currently, much of California’s excess runoff ends up flowing into the ocean.

The other new water supply project – which garnered an 74 percent endorsement — is the privately funded Cadiz Water Project in the San Bernardino County desert which is designed to conserve groundwater that would otherwise turn salty and evaporate. The project would be able to save this otherwise lost water source and thereby provide a new water supply source for 400,000 people. This new water source has been vetted and approved in accordance with California’s environmental laws (the California Environmental Quality Act – CEQA) and, when constructed and operational, the Cadiz Water Project will be monitored by San Bernardino County to ensure environmental safety.

Private investment in water storage projects, versus the use of public taxpayer dollars, is currently the favored method of funding these projects though slightly a quarter of the survey’s respondents were undecided about this funding option.

Additional data gleaned from CWND’s survey shows nearly 75 percent of those responding to the emailed inquiry oppose state interference in the use of local water resources. Currently, some Sacramento politicians are considering further legislation that would restrict San Bernardino County from using its own, currently untapped water resources in spite of compliance with CEQA and even federal environmental rules.

Water customers who have experienced significant water rate increases in spite of considerably reduced water use support efforts (73 percent) to increase water supplies to minimize future rate increases. One such option is the use of treated and recycled waste water to recharge groundwater basins for further reuse.

As for any further permanent conservation efforts CWND’s survey found:

  • A prohibition on hosing sidewalks or driveways is supported by 67 percent
  • The prohibition of freshwater irrigation of parkways or shared green space is supported by 53 percent of respondents
  • Prohibiting the irrigation of residential lawns and landscaping is endorse by 24 percent
  • And, 23 percent want regulated water use per household, either by day or gallon.

The email survey received 527 responses from a near equal political party representation of 34 percent Democrats and 32 percent for both Republicans and Independents. Responders reflected a gender breakout of 40 percent males, 29 percent female with 29 percent remaining unspecified.

Survey respondents’ demographics showed 78 percent as absentee voters (voting by mail) and 21 percent voting at the polls. The propensity to regularly vote ranged from 28 percent voting 100 percent of the time and a low of 26 percent not voting. View detailed report at San Bernardino County Water Resources Report.