San Diego County Water Authority poll shows high level of public confidence in water reliability

By on July 2, 2017
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A recent poll of 1,001 adults in San Diego County has shown a high level of public confidence in the reliability of the San Diego region’s water supply. The poll, conducted by Probe Research between May 3 and May 25 also showed strong support for the region’s water supply diversification strategy, using water efficiently and the value of water compared to other utilities.

A significant majority (83 percent) of those polled viewed the region’s water supply as somewhat or very reliable, outpacing results in the 2015 (65 percent) and 2014 (70 percent) surveys. Overall, 80 percent of respondents in 2017 had a positive outlook on San Diego County’s water supply, believing it is improving (41 percent) or holding steady (39 percent).

Public trust in the region’s water agencies to ensure the area has a reliable long-term supply of water is rising. Nearly six in 10 residents now hold that view, up from 48 percent in 2014 and 51 percent in 2015. Additionally, San Diego county residents continued to show overwhelming support (79 percent) for the Water Authority’s supply diversification strategy, which includes water-use efficiency, Colorado River water transfers, local supply development efforts such as groundwater and recycling, and the addition of desalinated seawater in late 2015 from the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant.

“Coming out of this most recent drought that challenged so many communities across the state, it’s great to see that the public feels more secure about our region’s water supply reliability than before,” said Mark Muir, chair of the Water Authority’s Board. “Our residents continue to support supply diversification, are willing to continue to use water efficiently no matter the weather, and recognize the need to ensure ongoing water security for our region’s 3.3 million people and $222 billion economy.”

Additional findings of the Probe Research poll found:

  • Water supply reliability was no longer seen as the most pressing issue facing San Diego County, as it was in the 2015 survey. Only 6 percent of respondents cited water supply/drought as top-of-mind issues on an unaided basis. Affordable housing came in as the most prominent top-of-mind issue, with 13 percent of responses.
  • A reliable water supply was widely seen as important for San Diego County, with 84 percent of respondents saying it is essential for a healthy economy and 80 percent agreeing it is essential for their quality of life.
  • About half (51 percent) agreed that they could do more to conserve water at home; 22 percent disagreed.
  • Supporters of mixing advanced treated recycled water into the supply of drinking water (61 percent) significantly outweigh opponents (31 percent).
  • Four in 10 (40 percent) respondents expected to pay more for a reliable water supply even while they are reducing their water use.
  • More than four in 10 respondents (41 percent) moderately or strongly agreed that additional rate increases are necessary to support regional water supply reliability, a slight decrease from 2015 (44 percent), but still above 2014 levels (33 percent).
  • A majority of residents (56 percent) agreed that it costs more to provide a reliable water supply in San Diego County than in most other parts of the country.
  • Two-thirds (67 percent) of respondents said water is a good or excellent value compared to other utilities, consistent with the 2015 poll.

The San Diego county Water authority has performed periodic public opinion research for more than 17 years to determine local residents’ knowledge and attitudes regarding water issues. The Water Authority’s staff presented poll results to the agency’s Board of Directors last week.