Survey of 1,000 consumers gauges public attitudes on water issues within the region
A majority of Southern California consumers are concerned about the availability and safety of their drinking water, and about half are willing to pay higher rates for investments that address supply issues, according to a recent Metropolitan Water District survey.
Following one of the state’s wettest winters, 77% of respondents said they are continuing to make an effort to save water through a variety of conservation actions in their homes and yards. In addition to identifying top water issues of concern, the poll of 1,000 residents across Metropolitan’s six-county service area focused on the public’s opinion of how Metropolitan and local water agencies are performing, the taste and quality of tap water, preferences on bottled water use and residents’ commitment to conservation.
Metropolitan General Manager Adel Hagekhalil said the collected data will support Metropolitan’s efforts to understand public attitudes and awareness of water issues so that it can better engage with its communities regarding needed water resource investments as part of the district’s ongoing Climate Adaptation Master Planning effort.
“California’s weather extremes and climate whiplash are increasingly making water management more challenging,” Hagekhalil said. “This new data makes it clear that the communities we serve are committed to conservation and rightfully concerned about the future of their water supplies with climate change. Finding solutions requires us all to work together and to take bold action to secure a reliable and resilient water future for all with no one left behind.”
Results of the poll – funded by Metropolitan and performed by consultant EMC Research – was presented to the Metropolitan board’s Legislative, Regulatory Affairs and Communications Committee on Monday (June 12). The survey, conducted via telephone interviews and online surveys in English and Spanish in early May, found that about 64% of respondents believe that there is a real threat to Southern California’s water supplies and that we may not have enough water for the future. When asked to choose, 57% think Southern California water agencies’ highest priority should be ensuring we have adequate water supplies to meet our region’s needs compared with 37% who said the priority should be improving the safety and quality of their drinking water.
About two-thirds of residents agree that water supply investments are necessary, but just half are willing to personally pay for the improvements.
Though 62% of respondents agreed that their tap water is safe to drink and 48% think their tap water tastes good, 60% preferred to pay for bottled water instead of drinking from their tap. There also is a higher concern and less trust in tap water among BIPOC (Black, indigenous, and people of color) residents.
“It’s clear that we as water providers across Southern California must do more to increase trust within the communities we serve and bring everyone into the conversation –on both water supply and water quality issues,” said Metropolitan Board Director Barry D. Pressman, who chairs the board’s Subcommittee on Public Affairs Engagement. “Water is essential. It’s imperative the public understands the significant challenges we face and the opportunities before us to overcome them.”
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a state-established cooperative that, along with its 26 cities and retail suppliers, provides water for 19 million people in six counties. The district imports water from the Colorado River and Northern California to supplement local supplies, and helps its members to develop increased water conservation, recycling, storage and other resource-management programs.