Californians are well aware of the drought. More than two-thirds say it’s a big problem in their part of the state, with Northern Californians generally more concerned than Southern Californians, according to a Public Policy Institute of California poll released tonight.
But the poll also reveals that most people aren’t sure exactly how much water they’re supposed to be conserving.
That number depends on where they live and who their water supplier is. And only 30 percent of all adults surveyed said they know their conservation goal. Folks in L.A. were the least likely to know (24 percent) with residents of the Bay Area and the Central Valley the most likely to know (38 percent and 35 percent, respectively).
I don’t know how reasonable it is to expect random people who pick up the phone to know the exact percentage reduction required where they live. Those mandates, after all, range from 4 percent to 36 percent depending on how much water each community has already saved. I have trouble remembering some of the Stockton-area targets without looking them up, and it’s my job to know this stuff.
Nevertheless, “an unwritten goal is just a wish.” So reads the quote beneath my wife’s photo in her high school yearbook. It’s tough to hit a target when you don’t know what it is.
Then there’s the whole Nor Cal-So Cal rift. Not only are the folks down south less likely to know how much water they are supposed to save, but they are also less likely to consider the drought to be a “big problem” in the first place. (Central Valley = 76 percent; Bay Area = 73 percent; Orange County/San Diego = 68 percent; Inland Empire = 64 percent; and L.A. = 62 percent.)
Southern Californians are also less likely to be following drought news closely, the poll suggests.
Strangely, however, they are more likely to say that their neighbors — other people in their own region — should be doing more about the drought. And I’m not quite sure how to explain that.