U.S. Water News Online
RALEIGH, N.C.-- More than two-thirds of North Carolina residents expect water conservation to stick around long term as the state recovers from its worst drought on record, according to a recently released poll.
The Elon University poll showed a population of adults that were well aware of drought issues and ways to conserve. But they differed on who should bear responsibility for saving water.
About 83.9 percent of the 473 adults that responded to the poll said they were reducing water usage. Another 15 percent said they were not reducing usage, and 1.1 percent said they didn't know.
The poll, conducted between March 10 and March 13 by the university's Institute for Politics and Public Affairs, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.
Most respondents said the best ways to save water are to not water outdoor plants, take shorter showers and refrain from washing cars at home. Many areas in the state have water restrictions limiting lawn watering and car washing.
Only 27.8 percent said they have installed a water efficient shower head. Even fewer have installed low-flow toilets, an efficient washing machine or a rain barrel.
Poll director Hunter Bacot said those numbers indicate plenty of room for improvement in residential water conservation.
"People are recognizing this is not something that's just going to go away," Bacot said. "Since they're recognizing a long-term issue, it gives an opportunity to sustain a campaign to change behavior."
While the poll found that 67.8 percent of respondents expected water conservation to remain in effect long term, only 60 percent said residents are "very responsible" for reducing water usage. More adults said local and state governments bear more responsibility for conservation while power companies and developers shouldn't carry as much responsibility.
North Carolina fell into its worst drought on record last summer, which damaged the farming industry statewide and forced government officials to enact stiff water restrictions amid dwindling water supplies.
The drought has eased over the past month as several batches of rain have moved most of the state from exceptional drought status - the worst category - to extreme and sever drought. The coast has the best conditions, though all counties in that area are still categorized as "abnormally dry."
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