A poll by UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies and co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times included over 9,000 voters across the sate. It showed that 71% of respondents said California’s water shortage is “extremely serious,” and 23% said it was “somewhat serious.”
Of the respondents, 9% said they and their families have been impacted “a great deal” by the current drought, and 32% said they have been somewhat impacted. Fifty-seven percent said they have been impacted “only a little” or they have not been impacted at all.
In 2015, a similar poll was conducted and showed that 58% of respondents said they were impacted at least somewhat by the drought, while 76% said it was extremely serious.
“What’s striking to me is that it’s not really directly affecting as many voters as you might think,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Berkeley IGS poll. During this drought, he said, the water shortage “really hasn’t been as broadly felt by voters, at least not up to this point.”
When the 2012-2016 drought was at its peak, then-Governor Jerry Brown (D) mandated water cuts across the state by 25%, the Los Angeles Times reported. Instead, this time around, Governor Gavin Newsom (D) has asked Californians to cut water usage by 15% and has provided local water supplies with more options in taking conservation actions.
Los Angeles County is one area that has seen intense water restrictions with regard to outdoor water use.
The main agency cracking down on those who break the rules in the area of Southern California is the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District, which operates in some of the wealthiest areas, such as Calabasas, Hidden Hills, Agoura Hills, Westlake Village, and areas of Malibu, according to USA Today.
The agency has even begun putting flow restrictor devices on people’s homes who use a lot of water. The devices shut down the water for the outside, and limit how much can be used inside one’s home. Violators can get their names taken off of the list prior to getting a restrictor put on their house if they sign a form and lower their water use.
In the poll, 44% of L.A. County voters said complying was easy, with 13% saying it has been hard. However, 72% said they are doing all they can to cut down on water use.
While citizens in cities might not be feeling the effects of the drought, farmers are struggling under the lack of water. In recent years, many have left their land fallow, or uncultivated, while making hard decisions on which crops to plant. The situation could even lead to small family farms needing to close down and move out of the region.
The poll showed that in the San Joaquin Valley, where farmers are struggling, 18% said they had been impacted “a great deal” by the drought, which was the most of any area of the state.