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The issue of water matters to Colorado voters. This poll shows that voters understand the importance of conserving and preserving our rivers and streams for future generations. They believe that we can accomplish a goal to reduce water usage by 10% by 2020 through conservation and eliminating waste, and not by building new diversion projects. Moreover, they say that water belongs to everyone and we can all do our part to conserve water so future generations can enjoy it.

Five key findings are presented here:

    1. The Most Important Goal for the Statewide Water Plan: Keeping Colorado’s Rivers and Streams Healthy and Flowing.

      Colorado voters think we need a change in how we use and manage water. When asked to think about how we use and manage water here in Colorado, a two-thirds majority say that we need a lot or some change, while only 11% say we need little or no change.

      When told that the Colorado Water Conservation Board is developing the first ever statewide water plan, 90% of voters say it is extremely or very important priority to Keep Colorado’s rivers and streams healthy and flowing. In the West Slope Counties 92% say it is important. In fact, 3-of-4 voters describe Colorado’s rivers as being “At risk.”

      The second most important priority is Improving water conservation and recycling of water in Colorado cities and towns. (78% say it’s extremely or very important)

      Ranked a close third is Modernizing and helping provide greater flexibility for farmers and ranchers in how they use water. (76% say it’s extremely or very important)

      Voters statewide place a lower priority on the goal of Preventing large, new projects that would divert water from western Colorado rivers to Front Range cities. (48% say it’s extremely or very important) However, West Slope voters have more intense feelings about these water diversions with nearly half (44%) saying it is extremely important to prevent water diversions to the Front Range.

      Voters believe that if these are the goals of the water plan, it will positively affect future generations (88% positive), fish and wildlife (83% positive), farms and ranches (78% positive), opportunities to hunt, fish, boat, hike and enjoy outdoor recreation on Colorado’s rivers (76% positive) and Colorado’s economy and jobs (75% positive).

    2. A Majority of Colorado Voters and 9 of 10 West Slope Voters Oppose Building A New Pipeline To Divert Water From Western Colorado To The Front Range.

      Voters are now more opposed to diversions than they were just one year ago. A majority 56% of voters oppose the idea of building new pipeline projects to divert water from Western Colorado rivers over and through the mountains to Front Range cities, while only 39% support it. In 2013, 53% of voters opposed these diversions. In the Western Slope this diversion idea is overwhelmingly opposed by 89% of voters, while only 10% of support it.

      When given a choice in how we address future water shortages, voters choose conservation over diversion by more than a four-to-one margin. Fully, 78% of voters say “we can use our current water supply more wisely, by encouraging more water conservation, reducing use, and increasing the recycling of water” – while only 17% say “we should divert water from rivers, mostly in western Colorado to the Front Range communities where most people live.”

      The preference for conservation over diversion of water from Western Colorado rivers to Front Range cities is not a partisan issue: Registered Democrats (85% conserve; 13% divert), Unaffiliated voters (75% conserve; 19% divert), and Republicans (72% conserve; 21% divert) all agree.

    3. Coloradans Overwhelmingly Support A Statewide Goal of Reducing Water Usage By 10% by 2020.

      A strong majority 88% of voters support the idea of setting a statewide goal of reducing the amount of water used in Colorado cities and towns by 10% by the year 2020, including 65% that strongly support the idea – while only 11% oppose it. In the Western Slope the goal of reducing water by 10% by 2020 receives near universal 94% support.

      This water use reduction goal is supported by strong majorities across all political persuasions: Registered Democrats (99% support), Unaffiliated (87% support), and Republicans (79% support) and around the state: Western Slope (94% support), Eastern Plains (88% support), Colorado Springs (73% support), Denver (96% support) and in the Suburbs (90% support).

      In addition, voters overwhelmingly agree we could solve our water problems through conservation and reducing waste. Fully, eight of ten voters (82%) say Colorado could solve most of its water problems through efforts to conserve water and reduce waste – a view that is even stronger today than one year ago (76% say could in 2013) – while only 14% say we cannot solve our problems through conservation.

    4. Voters Are Willing To Take Action To Decrease Their Water Usage by Reducing Waste.

      Three-in-five voters (59%) say they are very willing to make significant changes in their household activities to reduce their water use by 20% over the next 20 years.

      Voters are very willing to do those things that will reduce water waste:

      • Making sure that any new appliances you purchase are water efficient (93% willing or already do it);
      • Having a water audit to identify leaks and other ways to reduce water waste. (85% willing or already have done it);
      • Installing rain sensors which automatically shut off sprinkler systems after adequate rainfall. (77% willing or already do it).When it comes to water use on farms and ranches, 94% support modernizing irrigation used for farms and ranches to make more efficient use of existing water supplies, including 70% that strongly support it.
    5. We Are All In This Together And Everyone Needs To Do Their Part.

      When it comes to talking about Colorado water resources and water plan, voters react positively to messages that bring people together by expressing that we are all in this together, water is a resource that belongs to everyone, and the importance of conserving water so that future generations can enjoy it.

      The following statements about Colorado’s water strike the strongest chord among the electorate:

      • We’re all in this together and everyone needs to do their part (81% strongly agree);
      • Water is a natural resource that belongs to everyone (80% strongly agree);
      • When we do small things to save water, it adds up to a lot (74% strongly agree);
      • We need to conserve water so that future generations of Coloradans can enjoy outdoor recreation opportunities on Colorado’s rivers (64% strongly agree).

These results are based on a live telephone poll, including traditional land lines and cell-phones, conducted September 5-8, 2014 among a representative sample of 500 voters statewide in Colorado, with an oversample to reach a total of 162 voters in the Western Slope region. For the statewide sample, the margin of error at the 95% level is plus or minus 4.6%. In the Western Slope is plus or minus 7.7%. In some cases, these results are compared to the September, 2013 Colorado statewide poll. This research was conducted by the bipartisan research team of Keating Research and Public Opinion Strategies.

Keating Research  GCA Public Opinion Strategies