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Drought alarms 9 in 10 Californians

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POSTED June 6, 2014 8:36 p.m.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Nearly 9 in 10 California voters are alarmed by the drought plaguing the state, but few say the rainfall shortage has had a major impact on them, according to a recent poll.

The University of Southern California Dornsife-Los Angeles Times poll conducted in late May found 89 percent of voters view the drought as a “crisis or major problem” but only 16 percent said it personally affected them.

To address water supply problems, most favored conservation efforts but balked at spending tax dollars.

“When you go to turn on the faucet, the water is still coming out, so while voters understand it as a concern, it’s not happening in a way that’s impacting them directly,” Drew Lieberman, vice president of the polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, said in a statement. The Democratic polling firm conducted the poll with Republican firm American Viewpoint.

Although California has seen abnormally low rainfall over the last year and Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency, water conservation efforts have been mostly voluntary.

Poll respondents said they shortened shower times or flushed the toilet more judiciously in response to the water crisis. Two-thirds of respondents said they curbed lawn watering.

To remediate the drought, there was majority support for solutions ranging from capturing rainwater to desalinating the ocean. But more than half of those surveyed said the state should promote conservation rather than spend tax dollars.

When it came to their willingness to pay a higher water bill if it helped secure the water supply, respondents were divided. Forty-six percent of voters said they would pay more, but 42 percent said current rates are sufficiently high.

The telephone poll was conducted by live interviewers who surveyed a random sampling of 1,511 registered California voters. It had a sampling error margin of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.

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