Survey shows Southern Californians committed to water efficiency

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Survey shows Southern Californians committed to water efficiency

Conservation remains top of mind for residents amid a changing climate

March 15, 2024

A vast majority of Southern Californians are committed to doing more to conserve water amid growing concerns about how climate change will affect the availability of water in the future, a recent Metropolitan Water District survey found.

Survey results presented to a Metropolitan board committee earlier this week showed 90% of respondents agree it’s important to conserve water every day, whether or not the region is in drought, and 75% are willing to do more to conserve than they’re doing currently.

Metropolitan General Manager Adel Hagekhalil underscored that the region’s commitment to conservation will be critical in the future, as climate change stresses the availability of imported water supplies with longer and more severe droughts – a challenge recognized by those surveyed. According to the survey, 75% agree that climate change will significantly impact Southern California’s water supply in the future and 83% agree that Southern California will experience more droughts.

“The results of this survey are very reassuring, because they show that our residents are rightly concerned about our future and are willing to be our partners in adapting to the extreme droughts and other challenges that climate change will bring,” Hagekhalil said.

“At the same time, there is an expectation from the public that we as water managers make needed investments to ensure we have reliable water supplies for generations to come. We cannot rely on conservation alone,” he added, noting 79% of survey respondents agreed that water managers must invest in water infrastructure.

The regional survey on water conservation was conducted in November 2023 by Probolsky Research via phone and online in English and Spanish to 1,000 participants within Metropolitan’s six-county service area. Metropolitan regularly engages in research to assess attitudes and opinions on critical water issues to help inform how to best communicate and engage with its communities.

Over the last 30 years, Southern Californians have continued to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability, with per person potable water use dropping by nearly 40%. Metropolitan has invested $910 million to help incentivize water-use efficiency with rebates for water efficient devices and landscape changes, education programs, research, and public outreach. During the 2022-23 fiscal year, Metropolitan invested about $46 million for these conservation programs.

Metropolitan’s Turf Replacement Program, in particular, has helped transform the landscape of Southern California, with more than 200 million square feet of thirsty grass removed and replaced with more water-efficient California Friendly and native landscapes. In an effort to help expand the region’s tree canopy and promote sustainability, a new rebate launched this month provides an additional $100 per tree that participants incorporate into their turf replacement projects.

Collectively, the water saved through these investments and through the efforts made by Southern Californians has made a big difference in ensuring the region has water during times of drought. In fact, about 2.5 million acre-feet of the record 3.4 million acre-feet of Metropolitan has in storage is water conserved by the region. Without these conserved supplies, the district’s storage reserves would have reached critically low levels during droughts over the past 20 years, possibly triggering additional and more widespread calls for mandatory rationing.

With a hotter, drier future in store, with extreme periods of drought and storms, Metropolitan is also engaging in a new planning process that accounts for those challenges. In 2023, Metropolitan launched a Climate Adaptation Master Plan for Water (CAMP4W), a collaborative effort to create a roadmap for future capital investments and business decisions to adapt for a changed climate and the impact on water reliability.