California Water Conservation Efforts
California Water Conservation Efforts

Californians reluctant to conserve water despite serious drought

The California drought has led to mandatory water cuts of 4 to 26 percent, depending on the water district and the area. Even though customers throughout the state believe this is a serious issue, many are struggling to meet the mandatory water restrictions. In theory, Californians are okay with cutting back on their water usage, but when it comes time to actually applying the theory, more and more are struggling to give up their current way of life.

According to a Field Poll survey, conducted by San Francisco-based Field Research Corporation, “Nearly nine in ten residents believe the current water shortage is serious.” This same group also said they would have an issue with their local water district increasing their water bill by 15 to 25 percent.

Even though residents are in favor of reducing water usage to address the California drought, very few are serious about making major cutbacks. From the research the Field Poll found, the wealthier tend to have little concern about their water usage. Seeing fluctuations in their water bill is less likely to concern them than it would if they were members of the working poor.

“Upper income homeowners are much less sensitive to rate increases of this magnitude [15 to 25 percent,]” said Field Poll’s survey results.

Another portion of the survey found that over 60% of Southern Californians who were surveyed believe that the Central Valley farmers can reduce the amount of water they are using by changing the types of crops they grow and utilizing water more efficiently.

While the threats of fines are one of many tactics being used to fight the California drought, state and local officials are hoping the threats of hefty fines will be enough for consumers to cutback on their usage.

“It’s going to be a monumental effort to get the public to follow through on this,” Mark DiCamillod, director of the Field Poll, told The San Francisco Chronicle. “People certainly understand the severity of the crisis…but they’re saying, ‘This could be a problem for me.’”

Some water agencies are hoping to address water restrictions earlier rather than later. The Contra Costa Water District is seeing the largest water cut in the Bay Area, with a mandatory 25 percent cut per customer.

Because of the California drought, many homeowners feel as though they have to compromise their lawns in order to meet these mandatory restrictions. It will be one of the challenges legislators will have to address when creating legislation to combat the water crisis.

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