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Poll: Californians Willing To Sacrifice In Drought

Rich Pedroncelli / AP

In this photo taken Monday, May 18, 2015, Gino Celli inspects wheat nearing harvest on his farm near Stockton, Calif.

Rich Pedroncelli / AP

The Hoover Institution’s Golden State Poll focused on how to address the state's fourth year of drought. It found 54 percent of likely voters back current water cuts. An even higher percentage would support sharing groundwater or restricting its use.

A majority would also rather see people fined for using too much water rather than being forced to pay higher rates.

Carson Bruno, a research fellow with the Hoover Institution, says voters believe all measures should be taken to increase water supply in the state.

“It seems like Californians are willing to throw the entire kitchen sink at the drought and the problem of water supply in the state," says Bruno. "We have significant support for building more dams and reservoirs."   

In fact, the poll shows 53 percent of voters support relaxing environmental laws to build more storage, including building building more desalination plants, capturing stormwater, and storing water underground.

Recycled wastewater is still too cringe-worthy for voters. Even after being told about the science behind the treatment of wastewater, and that the technology is being used in Orange County, only 20 percent of voters said they would drink recycled wastewater.

The only real split among voters is over whether some water should be reallocated from farms to cities. Voters in the poll were told that 40 percent of the available water in the state goes to agricultural growers, 10 percent goes to residential and business users, and the remaining 50 percent is designated to protect the environment. When read that information, 38 percent supported reallocation, 36 percent opposed it. The exception was in the Central Valley where half opposed reallocation.

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