Californians Want to Fix the Drought—Without Spending Any Money

| Sat Jun. 7, 2014 5:00 AM EDT

Californians agree their state's drought is a big problem, but they're not enthused about spending money to alleviate it. That's one of the takeaways from a just-released University of Southern California/Los Angeles Times poll. Some other findings:

Big problem, getting bigger

Just prior to California's last gubernatorial election in November 2010, 46 percent of voters agreed that "having enough water to meet our future needs" mattered "a great deal." The proportion of people who care a lot about water issues has crept up a lot since then:

  • Last September, 63 percent of voters called the drought a "crisis or major problem."
  • 89 percent of voters call the drought a "crisis or major problem" now.
     

Save us some water, just don't send us the bill

Californians are notoriously tax averse, but even what may be the worst drought in 500 years is apparently not enough to get most voters to agree that the state should improve its water infrastructure: 

  • 36 percent of voters said the state should improve water storage and delivery systems, even if it costs money.
  • 52 percent said the state should address these problems without spending money, by taking measures like encouraging conservation.
     

Poorer people and Latinos are feeling harder hit

The poll found:

  • 11 percentof people making more than $50,000 annually said the drought had a "major impact" on their lives.
  • 24 percent of people making less than $50,000 annually said the same. 
  • 29 percent of people making less than $20,000 annually said the same.

It's worth noting that some of California's poorest people are Hispanic farm workers. While 25 percent of Latinos surveyed said the drought had a "major impact" on their lives, just 13 percent of people from other racial groups said the same. 


Climate denial

A recent study has linked the drought to climate change, but some Californians still aren't so sure about the connection. While 78 percent of Democrats said climate change was "very or somewhat responsible" for California's water trouble, only 44 percent of Republicans agreed. 

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