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Californians Are Totally Baffled About How They're Going to Cut Back on Water

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In the midst of this extraordinary drought facing all of California, everyone in the state is facing mandatory cuts on water that vary from district to district, depending on how much water they already use. But while many Californians agree that the drought is serious, they seem less sure that they can do anything about it, a new statewide survey shows. It found that 89 percent of homeowners in California agree that the drought is serious and 66 percent say it's extremely serious, but just under half of respondents—44 percent—also confessed that they think it'll be really hard to cut back on their own water usage, says the San Jose Mercury News.

In Southern California, 44 percent of homeowners agreed that it would be "very/somewhat difficult" to cut back on their water use, but 46 percent said the opposite, that it would be fairly easy to do so. Those numbers were more or less the same for Northern California as well. The biggest variations in responses came not based on geography, but on income: 48 percent of respondents in households that bring in $100,000 or more a year said it would be very or somewhat difficult for them to scale back. 44 percent of people in households making $40,000 to $99,000 said they'd be hard-pressed to cut back, while 41 percent of those in households making less than $40,000 said they'd have difficulty conserving more. (Rich neighborhoods have already been found to use a lot more water than poorer ones.)

"I think the only thing that would make me change my water usage is if there were fines. That's bad, right? In other words, I don't care unless they fine me," one Pasadenan tells the LA Daily News. Maybe creating financial incentives to conserve would help people figure out how and where to cut back? That might work on some consumers, but not on all of them.

When asked about how serious a 15- to 20-percent increase in water rates would be for them, 42 percent of respondents making under $40,000 a year said it would be "very serious." But the severity of a rate hike severity waned as survey-takers' incomes rose—just 27 percent of homeowners making between $40,000 and $99,000 agreed that a hike that significant would be a serious problem, and only 18 percent of those making $100,000 a year or more felt that way. In fact, 44 percent of the wealthiest group surveyed responded that a 15 to 20 percent increase wouldn't be serious for them. (A recent study found that wealth was the "most reliable predictor" of water use.)
· California drought: New poll finds residents think it's serious, but aren't sure they can conserve more [SJMN]
· Study: Rich LA Neighborhoods Are Using More Water Than Everyone Else [Curbed LA]