June 17 – Data Released Today Show Californians Say Drought is “New Normal”

Coastkeeper releases digital map illustrating severe risk in water supply sources as they relate to drought conditions

SAN DIEGO, June 5, 2014 – Californians believe this year’s record drought is the “new normal” and favor investments in long-term solutions over short-term fixes, according to a poll released today by the California Water Foundation. To illustrate San Diego’s water supply vulnerability as it relates to this “new normal,” San Diego Coastkeeper published an online map that overlays drought conditions in California and the Southwest with an outline of watersheds from where the region imports water.

“It’s devastating to see this illustrated visually; the watersheds from where San Diego draws its water are nearly 100 percent impacted by drought,” said Travis Pritchard, San Diego Coastkeeper program manager. “We’re encouraged to hear that Californians recognize that our water supply problems are long term and that they favor long-term solutions—it’s time for decision makers to listen and take action.”

Recognizing the region’s water supply insecurities, Coastkeeper has for many years advocated that local water supply agencies prioritize water recycling and conservation in their regional water supply plans. Coastkeeper has also long been a staunch advocate for the City of San Diego’s planned large-scale water recycling project that could supply up to 40 percent of its own water needs and works with the City to ensure environmentally responsible future water supplies. Unfortunately, Coastkeeper’s recommendations fell on deaf ears with the San Diego County Water Authority, which recently approved a plan that prioritizes water sources that are both energy intense and environmentally damaging; namely additional imported water and conveyance, and additional desalination plants.

“Californians want both immediate actions in response to the current drought and a plan for the future that addresses the “new normal” of chronic water shortages,” said California Water Foundation Executive Director Lester Snow in his press release. “This poll shows that Californians are united in thinking that we need to employ all the tools we have to manage water more efficiently and to make investments now that squeeze the most out of the water supplies we have.”

The poll, conducted by a bipartisan team of pollsters — the Democratic polling firm Fairbanks, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates of Oakland, Calif. and Republican firm Public Opinion Strategies of Washington, D.C.–found some 85% of Californians continue to view the drought as a “very serious” or “serious” problem, with 48 percent considering it a “serious crisis” — more than triple the number that said that in a 2011 poll.

Coastkeeper’s digital map employs color coding to depict the severity of drought throughout California with data from the US Drought Monitor, a joint venture between the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. To see the drought’s impact on our water supply sources, Coastkeeper overlaid the outlines of the Colorado River Basin and the Sacramento River Basin combined with the San Joaquin River Basin, which flow into the Bay Delta.

For more information on San Diego Coastkeeper, please visit localhost/sdcoastkeeper.

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SAN DIEGO COASTKEEPER: Founded in 1995, San Diego Coastkeeper protects and restores fishable, swimmable and drinkable waters in San Diego County. Visit us online at http://localhost/sdcoastkeeper.