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Conserving water is a lot easier than digging a massive delta bypass tunnel

Conserving water is a lot easier than digging a massive delta bypass tunnel
The delta water tunnel would begin in Courtland, Calif., at the north end of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. (Randall Benton / Tribune News Service)

To the editor: Your comparison of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta bypass tunnel project to "a patient waiting for heart bypass surgery" and that "California has been stuck awaiting approval [to build a] bypass from the Sacramento River around (instead of through) the state's hydrological heart — the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta," exhibits the shortsightedness of many proponents of this project. ("California needs a workable delta tunnel plan," editorial, Feb. 10)

Why would you bypass the state's hydrological heart when it would in both cases lead to its death? Unless you propose somehow creating an entire new "heart" — the delta — this project is irresponsible.

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As for the statement that "it's an exercise in self-deception to believe that Southern California can generate 100% of its own water supply and need not shore up the import system that was created in the last century," this is off-base.

Total water use in Southern California and throughout the state has actually fallen since 1995, in spite of population growth. And much more can be done.

Chris Gilbert, Berkeley

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To the editor: The fact remains that tunnels can only divert existing water. In low flows, the delta wouldn't receive additional water, but because of the proposed diversion's efficiency, less water would be needed to reach the delta, presumably leaving more for us.

As it is, however, the delta smelt has been driven to near-extinction, so no additional diversion of water away from their habitat will restore their numbers, while reduced flow will inescapably lead to increased salinization of the delta and local groundwater.

As for trust issues involving the diversion of too much water, The Times Editorial Board provides numerous examples of our past bad behavior, as if the tunnel project will somehow be different. When reallocating the holdings of Big Ag goes unrecognized as the solution to the problem, the real diversion is the tunnel vision of political expediency.

Arthur D. Wahl, Port Hueneme

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