New Poll: Nearly 75% of California Voters Choose Improving Local Water Supplies as Top Solution to Drought

Vast Majority of California Voters Rank Drought as Most Critical Issue Facing the State and Want Action Now

SAN FRANCISCO (February 25, 2014) – California voters are more concerned about the drought than any other major issue and an overwhelming majority favor strategies to stretch local water supplies, including recycling, rainwater harvesting and efficiency measures, as the top solution to California’s water woes, according to a new poll conducted by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (FM3) on behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

“Californians are united in their desire for concrete long-term solutions to our water needs,” said Ann Notthoff, NRDC California Advocacy Director. “It’s time to embrace and implement water-smart strategies that ensure we make the most of every drop.”

By a margin of 74 percent to 17 percent, Californians think the best way to deal with the drought is to develop local supplies of water rather than expand water imports.  Furthermore, 77 percent of voters would be willing to pay more on their water bill in order to increase sustainable local water supplies.

Californians overwhelmingly agree that the crisis is urgent and all water users need to play a part:

  • 92 percent agree that “California is currently in the middle of severe drought.”
  • 92 percent agree that “all Californians – including farmers – need to do their part to conserve water now.” 
  • 82 percent agree that “California’s water supply problems are so severe that we need to make investments now to deal with them.”

“The public is ready to support workable measures to tap sustainable local water supplies and use all water more efficiently,” said Steve Fleischli, NRDC Water Program Director.  “The current drought is but a preview of conditions that will become increasingly common with a changing climate. Californians expect action and view local supplies and greater water efficiency as the top priorities.”

The poll also found that a very strong majority of Californians support – and are willing to pay for – a range of local water resiliency efforts:

  • 74 percent say cleaning up locally contaminated groundwater is a very important water supply solution and 71 percent would pay more on their water bill for it.
  • 71 percent say investing in new water efficiency technologies is a very important water supply solution and 75 percent would pay more on their water bill for it.
  • 69 percent say capturing rainwater for local use is a very important water supply solution and 74 percent would pay more on their water bill for it.
  • 64 percent say building local water recycling plants is a very important water supply solution and 74 percent would pay more on their water bill for it.


Additionally, California voters were polled on the potential scenarios for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan and 85 percent of voters preferred diversified approaches that include water efficiency, conservation and water recycling efforts.  Only ten percent favor a tunnel-only approach.

FM3 conducted the survey from February 1-9, 2014. It included 1,000 telephone interviews with California voters likely to cast ballots in November 2014.  The margin of sampling error for the full sample is +/- 3.1%. 

FM3’s memo on drought findings can found here:


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