County residents support local water supply development over increasing imported water

Short Title
County residents support local water supply development over increasing imported water
Public opinion poll shows strong support for local seawater desalination and recycled water use
July 28, 2005

The results of a recent public opinion survey conducted for the San Diego County Water Authority, shows that many San Diego County residents support the development of local water resources over increasing imported water supplies. Support for local water supplies remains high, even if it is more expensive than increasing imported water supplies.

A majority of respondents to the survey said it was better for local water agencies to invest in seawater desalination than to purchase additional imported water. Survey respondents also strongly support using recycled water for irrigation of public and residential landscapes, parks and recreational areas.

“The results of this poll shows that the public understands and supports the Water Authority’s efforts to increase water supply reliability and diversify our water supply portfolio,” said Board Chairman James Bond. “This annual survey is also an important tool in designing new conservation programs and incentives.”

The firm of Rea & Parker Research and the SDSU Social Science Research Laboratory conducted the telephone survey in June 2005. Richard A. Parker, Ph.D, principal of Rea & Parker, presented the results of the survey to the Water Authority board today.

Among key findings of the survey:
    •    More respondents to the survey, 44 percent, supported the development of local water supplies over importing more water from outside the county, which 37 percent supported. Of those supporting local water supply development, 63 percent would support it even if it was more expensive than imported supplies.
    •    Sixty-nine percent said that it was better for local water agencies to invest in seawater desalination than to purchase additional imported water.
    •    Two-thirds of the respondents considered San Diego’s current water supply reliable.
    •    More than half of the respondents who purchased a new clothes washer in the last three years selected a high-efficiency, water and power saving unit.
    •    Asked about potential uses of recycled water, respondents indicated support as follows:
    ◦    Freeways and golf courses (96 percent favor, of whom 88 percent strongly favor)
    ◦    Watering sports fields and parks (91 percent—78 percent strongly)
    ◦    Watering landscape and common areas in multi-family housing (89 percent—72 percent strongly)
    ◦    Industrial processing and manufacturing (87 percent—72 percent strongly)
    ◦    Watering residential front yards (87 percent—68 percent strongly)
    ◦    Watering playgrounds at schools (81 percent—63 percent strongly)
    ◦    Agricultural irrigation (78 percent—60 percent strongly)
    ◦    Recreational lakes (63 percent—39 percent strongly)
    •    When asked what the San Diego County Water Authority should do to ensure a safe and reliable water supply, 18 percent indicated the utilization of seawater desalination, 15 percent cited the increased use of recycled water and 11 percent opted for more water conservation.

The survey was conducted with 735 adult participants within the Water Authority’s service area selected through random-digit dialing. Respondents earned a median household income of $63,600 per year. The median age was 48 years old. All participants had lived in San Diego County at least one year. Respondents were well educated, with 51 percent possessing a least a Bachelor’s Degree. Seventy-one percent were homeowners.
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