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Poll: Water supply tops Nevadans’ concerns

Ensuring there is enough water for the future is top of mind for the vast majority of residents in the nation’s driest state, according to a new bipartisan survey released Feb. 15.

In the latest Conservation in the West Poll, conducted by the Colorado College State of the Rockies Project, 90 percent of Nevadans said they support requiring local governments to determine whether there is enough water available before approving new residential development projects — the highest rate among the eight Western states surveyed — including 69 percent who said they would strongly support such a measure.

Nevadans expressed higher levels of concern over the availability of water supplies than most of their peers, which shouldn’t be too surprising considering that nearly three-quarters of the state’s population lives in Clark County, where Lake Mead’s bathtub ring sits as a stark omen of the West’s decades-long struggle with massive drought and chronic overuse of water along the Colorado River.

Low river levels were ranked as the most serious concern by Nevadans, with 81 percent calling it an extremely or very serious problem. That was even higher than concerns over the rising costs of living (76 percent) and gas prices (69 percent).

Concerns over inadequate water supplies (73 percent) and the drought (72 percent) rounded out the top five concerns for Nevadans out of the 14 issues surveyed.

“This year voters in Nevada have a lot on their minds, but they are not willing to trade one priority for another,” said Katrina Miller-Stevens, director of the State of the Rockies Project and an associate professor at Colorado College, in a statement.

Silver State residents are also overwhelmingly in favor of many of the conservation measures the poll asked about, including the construction of wildlife crossings over major highways, creating new national parks, national monuments and tribal protected areas.

Despite the rising costs of energy, 71 percent of Nevadans support moving away from fossil fuels as part of a gradual transition to getting 100 percent of energy from clean, renewable sources such as wind and solar over a 10-to 15-year period.

“High gas prices, increasing costs of living, and water shortage concerns are not enough to move Nevadans to reconsider their consistent support for conservation policies or seek out short-sighted solutions that put land and water at risk,” Miller-Stevens said.

The poll surveyed 3,413 people across eight states in English and Spanish from Jan. 5-22, with a minimum of 400 respondents from each state. The margin of error for the overall poll was 2.4 percentage points, and at most 4.9 percentage points for individual state results.

Contact Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com. Follow @Colton Lochhead on Twitter.

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