Drought has moved to the top of the list in the latest survey of Californians' environmental worries.
In a statewide poll conducted during the second week of July, more than a third of respondents (35 percent) cited water supply and drought as "the most important environmental issue facing California today." That more than doubled the second most popular response, which was air pollution.
It's the first time since the annual survey was launched in 2000 that Californians have cited water supply as their top concern, according to Mark Baldassare at the Public Policy Institute of California, which conducts the annual "Californians and Their Environment" poll. Even when asked the question in the drought year of 2009, only 18 percent pinpointed water supply as their biggest concern.
No other environmental concern, such as climate change, water pollution or traffic even cracked double digits in the latest survey. Only 2 percent cited fracking -- or hydraulic fracturing -- to recover oil and gas as their top concern.
More than half the respondents (54 percent) said they considered water supply to be a "big problem" in their part of the state. About one in four considered it "somewhat of a problem."
And most indicated at least some willingness to do their part in conserving water. An impressive 3 out of 4 in the PPIC survey favored "mandatory" requirements to reduce water use. Only 23 percent were opposed to the idea, though many urban water agencies have been slow to put mandatory conservation in place.