Seawater desalination overwhelmingly support by Californians in every demographic group

By on May 7, 2017
Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

Californians have overwhelmingly stated their support for seawater desalination projects as a way to bring more reliable water to the state. Although water year (WY) 2016-17 has provided abundant precipitation, the memory of the state’s worst five-year drought in modern history continues to reminds residents of California’s feast-or-famine water woes.

A new statewide poll of some 500 likely California voters was released earlier this week by Tulchin Research which found that across every demographic group, Californians are more likely to vote for a candidate for elected office who supports water desalination projects. The poll, commissioned by the William C. Velasquez Institute (WCVI) of Los Angeles, also found that an overwhelming majority want to see the state approve more desalination plants. WCVI is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that conducts research aimed at improving the level of political and economic participation in Latino and other underrepresented communities as well as informing the Latino leadership and public about the impact of public policies on Latinos.

The poll found that only five percent of voters oppose desalination efforts while another five percent are undecided. Ninety percent of likely voters favor desalination efforts, including a 56 percent that strongly favors these efforts.

Tuchin’s poll, conducted April 20-24, found support for desalination across every demographic group in California, including:

  • 94 percent of men and 87 percent of women in favor;
  • Republicans (92%), Democrats (90%) and independents (89%) all in favor of desalination efforts;
  • Water desalination is support throughout the state including voters in Sacramento/North State and the Central Valley (93% favor in both regions) followed by voters in the Bay Area (91%), the L.A. area (90%), L.A. County (89%) and San Diego (85%);
  • Desalination has strong support among every ethnic group in the state, including Caucasian and Asian voters (91%), Latinos (90%), and African Americans (81%); and
  • Voters under age 50 (92%) and over age 50 (89%) favor desalination at nearly equally high levels.

Survey respondents were also asked about their feelings toward local elected officials and their likelihood to vote for a candidate based on their position on water desalination. There is a strong preference for a candidate who supports funding water desalination plants which is seen across both partisan and regional lines. Three-quarters of voters (78% total likely, 31% much more likely) say they would be more likely to vote for a candidate for an elected office who supports seawater desalination. Just six percent say they would be less likely to vote for a desalination supporting candidate and another 17 percent are unsure.

“Very few issues show such overwhelming support as does desalination in California,” said Ben Tulchin, president of Tulchin Research. “Elected officials and candidates for elected office should certainly take note that their constituents clearly want seawater desalination as a source of drinking water in the state.”

As for paying for the costs of desalination 87 percent of the survey’s respondents are willing to pay a few more dollars each month, in the short term, for desalinated water.

“The results of this survey add to the mounting evidence that the majority of the state is in favor of desalination as a way to provide a secure source of drinking water for our communities,” said Antonio Gonzalez, president of the WCVI. “The Huntington Beach Desalination Facility will be a blessing for the nearly 1 million Latinos living in Orange County.”