Though a majority of California voters support Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to adjust the path of water transportation in order to preserve more than 10,000 acres of wildlife habitat, support dropped by 36 percentage points after being informed of the potential costs.
According to a recent poll by the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and the Los Angeles Times, 51 percent of those polled said they supported the bill prior to being informed of the $25 billion cost of the project.
“There’s no question that Californians understand that something needs to be done to make sure that they have a safe and clean water supply available to them,” said Dan Schnur, director of the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll and USC’s Unruh Institute of Politics. “They simply don’t trust state government to make it happen, so they’re very supportive of the governor’s proposal, but when they’re told how much it costs or how much it would cost, that support disappears.”
Several USC students agreed that California’s water crisis is an important issue and supported Brown’s proposal, despite the cost.
“I think the environment is more important than just a piece of paper in your hand because the environment will last forever versus our human civilization, which will not be around forever,” said Hailey Rheinschild, an undeclared sophomore.
Gina Oh, a sophomore majoring in communications, also thought the issue was important to discuss.
“I believe in long-term rather than short-term gratification, and we are in a water crisis,” Oh said. “So it makes more sense to work towards a long term goal of conserving water because we are definitely going to run out at some point.”
Sixty-three percent of Californians polled agreed that there is a water crisis or at least a major problem. Carlos Portela, a senior double majoring in aerospace engineering and physics, admitted that students are not necessarily affected by the water crisis, but said he still supported the bill.
“I feel like college campuses and residences where people don’t specifically pay for utilities have no regard for conserving water,” Portela said. “So people should know that there’s a big problem and start using it more responsibly.”
In addition, more than 80 percent of those sampled said they have adjusted their personal habits to conserve more water. Students also said they have taken measures to conserve water, as well as to protect the environment in general.
“I use a Brita,” said Maren Jorgensen, a sophomore majoring in psychology. “I don’t buy water bottles over and over again. I use the sink and I take short showers.”
Experts worried that despite California voters saying they work to conserve water, few are willing to spend the extra money to help preserve water and the environment.
“Californians have been living with the threat of a water shortage for a long time, yet most remain satisfied with the quality and availability of their water. This contributes to making it more of an ethereal problem than an immediate problem,” Drew Lieberman, vice president of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, told USC News. “As a result, people have little appetite for spending money to address it now, and the shift away from the proposals once we added in the cost component was, frankly, enormous.”
Follow us on Twitter @dailytrojan