Many Americans in Western states are concerned about water shortages

Taylor OrthDirector of Survey Data Journalism
August 17, 2022, 7:25 PM GMT+0

As this summer has shaped up to be one of the hottest on record, many Americans are struggling to cope with drought and water shortages. Water levels in the Colorado River, which supplies water to 40 million people, recently reached record lows, prompting steep cuts to water usage in Arizona and Nevada earlier this week. The Northeast is also facing a severe drought, leading to concerns over a reduction of flow in rivers as well as widespread crop loss. The water crisis is also spilling into Texas: Two of its most populous counties issued disaster declarations last week.

A recent YouGov poll finds that one in five Americans (19%) are very concerned with water shortages in their area, while an additional 25% are somewhat concerned about shortages; half (48%) say they're not very concerned or not concerned at all. People living in Western states are significantly more likely than Americans overall to be worried about water shortages: 32% are very concerned and 31% are somewhat concerned. People who live in the Midwest are least likely to be concerned about water scarcity.

Eight in 10 Americans (79%) say they'd be somewhat or very willing to reduce their water usage in the event of drought in their local area; 13% say they'd be not very or not at all willing. Adults under 45 are 10 percentage points less likely to say they'd be willing to reduce their water usage than older adults would be. More Democrats also say they are willing to cut their water consumption than the shares of Republicans or Independents who say so.

Half of Americans (50%) believe recent droughts are the result of climate change, while 35% say droughts are just events that happen from time to time. Democrats are twice as likely as Independents and three times as likely as Republicans to attribute recent droughts to climate change. The findings also show a link between what people blame for droughts and how willing they are to reduce their water consumption: People who tie droughts to climate change are twice as likely to say they'd be very willing to reduce their water usage as are people who believe droughts are just a normal occurrence.

See the results from this poll:

- Carl Bialik contributed to this article

Methodology: This Daily Questions survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 7,677 U.S. adults interviewed online on August 16 - 17, 2022. The samples were weighted to be representative of the U.S. population, based on gender, age, race, education, U.S. census region, and political party.

Image: Viktoriya / Adobe Stock

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