Survey: Drought as critical as jobs to Californians (March 28, 2015)

IE faring better, outlook more positive than most metros

Californians are equally likely to name the drought and the economy as the most important current issue facing the state, while more than half of residents surveyed in the Inland Empire called the supply of water a big problem, a survey of 1,706 adults in California has found.

The ongoing drought is raising concerns about the long-term water supply, said Mark Baldassare, president and CEO of the Public Policy Institute of California, which administered the survey released last week. Most Californians (66 percent) think their neighbors could be doing more to save water today.

The majority of San Bernardino County falls into the severe drought category, with conditions worsening here from east to west, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Most of the county fares better than about two-thirds of the state, however, as 66.6 percent of California is listed as being under extreme or exceptional drought conditions. Subsequently, the Inland Empire’s reaction to water is more positive than in most other metropolitan areas, according to the survey.

Residents of the Central Valley, where the drought has hit hardest, are most likely to see the water supply as a glaring issue, the survey found. Of those surveyed there, 76 percent called the water supply a major problem, compared to 71 percent in Orange/San Diego, 63 percent in the San Francisco Bay Area and 60 percent in Los Angeles.

The drought, along with rising water costs, was the impetus for the Hesperia City Council’s purchase in mid-March of 500 acre-feet of water rights for $2.5 million.

He who controls the water, controls his destiny, Mayor Pro Tem Bill Holland said at the time, borrowing a phrase used by fellow Councilman Russ Blewett.

Slightly less of California is dealing with extreme or exceptional drought conditions than a year ago, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, but almost twice as much of the state (41.41 percent) was listed under exceptional drought conditions than on March 25, 2014.

Gov. Jerry Brown earlier this month, in an effort to mitigate the ongoing drought, joined legislative leaders to announce a $1 billion emergency drought package.

Source: Daily Press