Florida residents via a survey say the state’s water resources are just as important as healthcare and the economy, according to researchers from the University of Florida IFAS Center for Public Issues Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources.

PIE Center researchers gathered the opinions of 523 persons about a list of 10 issues, and only two-tenths of a percent separated what the respondents tagged as the three most critical issues—81.5 percent deemed healthcare highly or extremely important, 81.4 signified water that important and 81.3 percent ranked the economy that important.

Assistant Professor Alexa Lamm, administrator of the fourth-annual survey, projected these results would be comparable to what the state’s entire population would say.

What surprises me is that the water issue is so high in a state that seems to normally have plenty of water in most portions of the state. Maybe those of us outside the state don’t hear about its water shortages, although I do remember a Florida drought grabbing national attention a few years ago, but not to the scale of the attention being given California.

Maybe water issues are on the top of mind for the whole nation, not just those persons in states drawing too much water from aquifers and in states regularly being shorted on rainfall.

I’ve got to admit that even though I regularly write about water shortages for agricultural production, I’m not good about saving water around my house. We have had dry summers in the Kansas City area, but that meant I bit the bullet and turned the lawn irrigation on longer.

Similar actions seem to be the norm in Florida even if they think water availability is an extremely important issue.

“Floridians in the survey reported a high level of engagement in a variety of water conservation habits, but were more likely to save water indoors than in their home landscapes,” the researchers noted.

More than half of Floridians remained neutral when researchers asked if turfgrass lawns and landscape irrigation have a positive effect on the environment. Jack Payne, UF/IFAS senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources, said the research “signals an opportunity to educate and inform residents about how to conserve water when caring for their landscape.”

Payne further claims this signifies “our public wants to be informed and engaged in water conservation.”

I’m wondering what the attitude of the Florida population as a whole is toward agriculture’s use of water and if most of them think growers could use water more wisely. In so many cases, when it comes to issues of concern by groups of people, there usually is finger pointing for somebody else to do something first. It is usually an attitude of, “I’m a small problem compared to them.”

If I was surveyed, I’d probably list water issues as highly important, but I’d point to the increasing number of hotels in the Kansas City area as not using water-efficient toilets or showers or sufficient incentives for guests to conserve water.

Therefore, I just keep watering my grass, which my wife kids me is “my farm.” I wonder when “highly important” triggers true action?