California voters are evenly divided over whether the state should bypass fish and wildlife regulations to allow for more access to water during a punishing fourth year of drought, according to the results of a Field Poll released this week.
50 percent of state voters would like to see environmental regulations governing the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta lifted “if residents or farmers face serious shortages,” according to the poll, while 46 percent are opposed.
Unsurprisingly, the numbers shift depending on the region; 61 percent of the agriculture-concentrated Central Valley want the regulations lifted, while 64 percent of San Francisco-Bay Area voters would oppose such a measure.
The voters’ split on the idea of lifting regulations is somewhat surprising, considering nearly nineteen out of twenty (94%) would classify California’s drought as “serious.” 68 percent of state voters call the drought “extremely serious.” Those numbers are up from April 2014, when 60 percent of state voters called the drought “extremely serious.” Again, farmers in the Central Valley were more likely (73%) to apply that designation to the drought.
The poll also reveals voters’ preferences on the adequacy of the state’s water storage systems; 81 percent call the water storage and supply systems “inadequate” or “just barely adequate.” In contrast, just 10 percent call the systems “more than adequate.”
The consequences of the state’s drought recently got worse for Central Valley farmers; on Friday, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced it would not provide the region’s growers with water from its reservoirs for a second consecutive year.