Nearly All California Voters Think Water Shortage Is A Serious Problem, Poll Shows

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Nearly all California voters believe the state's water shortage is a serious problem, though they were split on whether environmental protection should be rolled back in response, according to a Field Poll released on Thursday.

Winter storms that dropped up to a foot (30 cm) of rain on parts of California have modestly eased the dry conditions, according to U.S. drought experts, but the relief only put a dent in the drought entering its fourth year.

Some 94 percent of polled voters said the shortage was serious, with over two-thirds describing the shortfall as extremely serious. Respondents in northern California, the Central Valley, and the San Francisco Bay Area were more likely than their southern California counterparts to say the problem was extreme.

About four in 10 voters said they felt the state's existing water storage and supply facilities could not meet the state's needs, a rate almost two times higher than when respondents were asked the same question in 1980.

That said, there was a near even split as to whether environmental protection supporting marine life as well as the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento-San Joaquin river delta should be rolled back, with 50 percent backing such measures and 46 percent opposing them.

The poll surveyed 1,241 registered voters in California from late January to mid-February by phone. The results have a sampling error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points. (Reporting by Curtis Skinner; Editing by Alison Williams)

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