Readers React

One gallon of water for an almond? Not in California

To the editor: George Skelton notes the interesting fact that it takes one gallon of water to produce a single almond. Agriculture accounts for less than 2% of California's gross domestic product, yet it consumes up to 80% of our developed water supply. ("Thirsty crops should require state regulation," March 22)

As a right-brained person who generally lacks linear, systematic thinking, even I realize that we Californians have an obvious problem to address.

While I sympathize with the farmers who make their living based on water availability, I bet they can figure out alternative crops to cultivate when their water allotments are limited — without further depleting our aquifers.

Kathy Landis, Laguna Woods

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To the editor: California has a water supply problem not because of almonds or tomatoes or urban landscaping. It is because California has not invested in developing more reliable water supplies for decades.

Voters understood that last year when they overwhelmingly approved the governor's water bond. Telling farmers which crop to plant is not the solution.

Almonds use about the same amount of water per acre as many other crops. When combined, California's 400 crops make our state the most productive farm state in the nation, accounting for half the nation's fresh fruits, nuts and vegetables.

Telling farmers which crops they can plant is like government regulators telling columnists for The Times what they can and can't write about.

Mike Wade, Sacramento

The writer is executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition.

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To the editor: Skelton is spot on with his column about the water situation in California. We are robbing future generations of underground aquifer water by allowing farmers to plant whatever thirsty crops they want and digging deeper and deeper wells.

It's as if we're taking money out of the bank and never replacing it to fund our current expenses.

We need Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature to enact meaningful statewide water regulation that includes preserving our precious aquifers.

Michael B. Natelson, Newport Beach

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