Voter support for new water system drops in latest poll

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.”


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2 replies
  1. Jan McCleery
    Jan McCleery says:

    I am glad to see support for the ill conceived Tunnel Plan losing support.

    I would like to correct the inaccuracies in this news article though.

    First, Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal is not about preserving 10,000 acres of wildlife habitat. They plan to take up to 100,000 acres of rich Delta farmland by eminent domain if needed to flood in a reckless attempt to improve fish species without providing them sufficient fresh water. That is a ludicrous idea. Fish need fresh water. No matter how much “habitat” is created, expecting fish and water fowl to survive in brackish polluted water will not work. These will be further futile attempts to correct the damage being done due to too much fresh water being diverted from the estuary.

    Second, the Brown proposal does not make one drop of new water, provides no additional storage and no added reliability for Los Angeles or any other urban users. Furthermore, it will impact Northern California water supplies. Continuing to take as much or more water out of the Delta is not the answer.

    Gina Oh has it right – conservation is one of the keys. Another is desalination and recycling to give L.A. self-sufficiency instead of being reliant on water pumped over the Tehachapi’s.

    The water crisis is being caused by the continued expansion of crops in the desert central valley (San Joaquin Valley). The big corporate agribusinesses there which take 80 percent of the exported water have expanded their water need by almost 20 percent in the last decade and want to continue to expand. Those arid lands are also ripe for oil fracking. That all spells profit for the big corporate land owners who are paying for the tunnel plan. They are pushing this plan instead of a statewide plan which would benefit all users because with this plan they control the state’s water and can make serious profits.

    Conservation, desalination and recycling for L.A. and other more reasonable approaches bypass their ability to make profit from expanding almond acreage, fracking and reselling their low-cost water shares to developers for enormous profits.

  2. Thekatman
    Thekatman says:

    Hzow can you guys state there’s a water shortage when you have the Pacific Ocean in our backyard. Ever heard od a desalinization plant. They work really well anda re use on a global basis.

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