Readers React

California's drought: Why bottled water and lawns deserve scrutiny

To the editor: Michael Hiltzik's column is a good start to a scientifically based discussion about water use. I'd like to make a short contribution. ("The wrong way to think about California water," April 11)

First, while it's true that the volume of bottled water we consume is small relative to total consumption, it is worthwhile to dig deeper into the environmental externalities. There are thousands of 18-wheel trucks moving that water 24/7. It takes about three liters of water to produce one liter of bottled water.

Second, we cannot underestimate the consumption of turf grass water and acreage. Nationally, turf grass consumes more than the aggregate of the five largest agricultural crops in water consumption and irrigated acreage.

Finally, more than half the water applied to turf grass on sloped conditions can run off.

The conversation is worthwhile and should include a wide array of water professionals

Michael Davidson, Altadena

The writer is a consultant specializing in water resource management.

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To the editor: Hiltzik does his usual commendable job of debunking misleading economic myths, in this case regarding drought-related water management. He puts into perspective the water use of bottlers and almond growers and asks aggrieved suburbanites to reflect on their water-guzzling ornamental lawns.

But even in an analysis as thorough as Hiltzik's, fracking is nowhere to be seen. Why didn't he mention fracking's destruction and contamination of precious underground aquifers?

The unasked question remains starker than ever: Why won't California call for strict regulation, if not (as New York state has already done) an outright moratorium, on the wasteful, water-contaminating practice of hydraulic fracturing?

Leigh Clark, Granada Hills

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To the editor: Hiltzik tries to minimize the impact on California's drought of growing almonds by comparing the one gallon of water to raise one almond with the five gallons it takes to raise a head of broccoli.

What is overlooked is that there are about 22 almonds in a typical serving and five servings of broccoli in a head. At a ratio of 22 gallons of water per serving of almonds to one for broccoli, Hiltzik's comparison falls apart.

At five gallons per nut, don't even get me started on walnuts.

Bill Seibel, Glendora

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