Survey finds majority concerned about water supply

RANCHO SANTA FE — As a result of a resident survey, the Santa Fe Irrigation District has developed a series of outreach initiatives, including its Water Ambassador Program, to broaden the base of residents who understand the urgency and long-term nature of the water shortage.
In addition, the district is providing residents with detailed, comprehensive information about implementing water conservation measures through public forums, brochures, a newsletter and a new, interactive Web site to be launched next month.
The survey found that 70 percent of the respondents were “very concerned” about the current water shortage. However, nearly 30 percent of the survey’s respondents perceived the water shortage as “somewhat urgent” or “not very” urgent, and almost 20 percent characterized the shortage as a seasonal or a temporary problem.
“We have received our marching orders,” Michael Bardin, general manager of the district, said. “We now know that to have a successful outreach program and achieve our water conservation goals, we must broaden the base of residents who understand the urgency and long-term nature of our water shortage.”
The results of the survey serve as a guide for the district’s outreach program and help define key water-conservation messages for its constituents, Bardin added.
The survey also found that:
— Many respondents had engaged in water conservation measures, but early engagement was focused on efforts requiring minimal investment of time or money.
— Respondents strongly indicated that they needed more information about how to reduce water usage and implement effective conservation measures.
— Respondents indicated cost of upgrades was an obstacle to conservation.
— Respondents said they were less likely to engage in water conservation methods that required significant investments of time and money, even if those methods resulted in significant water conservation.
— The majority of respondents ranked their personal use of water as “medium use,” although residents with lots larger than six acres were somewhat more likely to acknowledge that their water usage was “high.”
— In terms of the most credible sources of information about the water shortage, respondents ranked the District as the most credible source, followed by the San Diego County Water Authority.
Based on these survey results, the district’s outreach campaign is designed to:
— Show residents who already are engaged how they can become increasingly effective with their conservation efforts over time by implementing more advanced measures for greater savings.
— Establish benchmarks for water usage that give residents a more accurate context for gauging their own consumption rates and more realistic metrics for tracking progress.
— Inform residents about return on investment and available rebates against the backdrop of increasing costs for water in the future.
— Stress that residents have the power to reduce their own rates of consumption and encourage others in their circle of influence to do so.

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