Many of you no doubt remember the mysterious "Water of the West" survey you received in the mail from the University of Idaho a while back. The preliminary results of that survey were just released here at the Palouse Basin Water Summit.
Response rate out of adjusted sample size of 1153 was 42% (some non-respondents were contacted by telephone.)
56% of telephone reponses and 64% of mail responses viewed water as a major or somewhat major problem.
51% Strongly Agreed/Agreed that further commercial and retail devcelopment would be a positive addition to the region, while 20% Strongly Diasgreed/Disagreed.
27% Strongly Agreed/Agreed that water issues are being used as an excuse to stop growth, while 41% Strongly Disagreed/Disagreed.
Only 30% of respondents would be willing to pay more on their monthly water bill if it promoted less water use and more conservation.
Highest support of respondents was for conservation behaviors and conservation devices
Lowest support was for reservoir construction and water pricing There was moderate support for lawn-watering prohibitions and water-wise landscaping.
Overall, it seems that people realize that we live in a semi-arid region and that wasting water is not a good idea. The majority of water use on the Palouse is for lawn watering in the summer. Cutting back on that would mean a significant water savings. It seemed obvious to me that people are more interested in local, common sense conservation measures versus things like a development moratorium or big government, big expense solutions. That was a sizable percentage of people who felt water was being used as an excuse to stop growth. There's a reason for that.
The phone survey responses did vary significantly from mailed responses in some areas andm ore analysis is necessary. That makes sense. People who are not as concerned about the "water crisis" are less likely to take the time to fill out a survey.