Californians favor $7.5 billion water bond to fight drought: poll

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 23, 2014 5:43 PM

By Sharon Bernstein

SACRAMENTO Calif. (Reuters) - Most Californians favor a ballot initiative authorizing spending $7.5 billion on projects to shore up the drought-parched state's water supply, including a new reservoir and underground storage projects, a poll shows.

The proposal to pay for the projects by selling bonds comes as California struggles through a third year of a catastrophic drought that has forced farmers to leave a half-million acres of land fallow and threatens drinking-water wells for thousands of residents.

"Majorities across the major state regions say that water supply is a big problem in their part of California

and that their state and local government is not doing enough about this issue," said Mark Baldassare, president of the Public Policy Institute of California, which released the poll results late Wednesday night.

The ballot initiative languished for months in the legislature amid partisan bickering before lawmakers agreed to put it before voters, with Republicans arguing for more funding for reservoirs and Democrats saying damming rivers and flooding canyons to build them would damage the environment.

Support for the plan is fairly strong among the general public, the survey showed.

About 56 percent of likely voters said they plan to vote for the measure in the Nov. 3 general election, compared with 32 percent who said they would vote against it, and 12 percent who said they do not know.

Among Democrats, who dominate the state politically, 68 percent supported the plan, along with 56 percent of independents. Republicans were evenly divided, with 43 percent in favor and 43 percent opposed.

The poll also showed that about half of likely voters favor a measure to enshrine a rainy-day fund in the state constitution. About 49 percent of likely voters said they support such a move, and about 34 percent opposed it. That is an increase in support from September, when 43 percent said they supported the fund and 33 percent were opposed.

The poll was based on a survey of 1,704 California adult residents interviewed on Oct. 12-19 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.

(Editing by Andre Grenon)