Just over half of Californians surveyed said water supply was a big problem in their region, while a fourth said it was “somewhat of a problem.” About one in five said it was “not much of a problem.” Three out of four residents—and a slightly smaller share of voters—said they support their local water districts requiring reduced water use. Half of Californians—51 percent—blame natural weather patterns, while 38 percent say the severe drought is caused by global warming.
Despite the drought and their apparent concern about it, Californians increased their water use by 1 percent in May compared with previous years, according to a state survey of water providers. This week, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill intended to nudge the state’s conservation efforts by barring homeowner’s associations from enforcing requirements that lawns be kept green during a drought-related state of emergency.
To make matters worse, scientists at NASA and the University of California, Irvine, said things might be even worse than previously thought. The study is the first to measure groundwater use in the West and its main author, Stephanie Castle, a UC water specialist, said the findings were “shocking.”
“We didn’t realize the magnitude of how much water we actually depleted” in the West, Castle said.