Southland's Water Needs

Your editorial (Feb. 19), "Water, Optimism, but--," was right on target. But you failed to mention one major point: It will take 10 years to build facilities to provide us with water.

That's why it is urgent for the public and private sector to find the answer to our water supply problem now.

While the Colorado River reservoirs are full today--a potential drought could occur next year, or the year after. Anyone who doesn't believe in the unpredictability of weather need only to have lived in Southern California this winter. And remember 1976-77? Two dry years in a row wiped out all surpluses.

Back then, the agency that provides this region with half of its water, Metropolitan Water District, turned to the Colorado River to make up its shortages. This option is no longer available. What happens when the Central Arizona Project starts operating? As you state, MWD will not be denied the use of any excess "so long as there is enough water in the river for everyone." If a drought hits the West, there won't be a surplus.

Now is the time to mobilize a bipartisan effort in the Legislature to end the stalemate that has dragged on for more than a decade over construction of a Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta facility.

So far, we have been very lucky, because completion of the Central Arizona Project was delayed, and we had several years of ample rainfall.

We can no longer afford to wait and to continue an endless debate. We must move forward with construction for the general welfare and economic progress of the entire state of California.

MICHAEL D. ANTONOVICH

Supervisor, Fifth District

Los Angeles

Your editorial was the right message at the right time.

It is easy during times such as now, when water is abundant, to be complacent about the long-range planning needed to guarantee supplies for Los Angeles and the rest of Southern California.

We hope your analysis of the problems facing water suppliers will lead the way to a political consensus on the issues in Sacramento. Your message will bolster our efforts to make known the dangers ahead.

PAUL H. LANE

Los Angeles

Lane is general manager and chief engineer of the Los Angeles City Department of Water and Power.

I am concerned with the state's lack of planning in connection with Southern California's water supply. At the end of this year, Arizona will receive its rightful share of water from the Colorado River. But Southern Californians can rest easy because we will be allowed to use any extra water, and the past two years have been flood years.

Is this any way to plan? Does the state require another year of drought before affirmative action is taken? Obviously, yes.

Your editorial concludes that "The political consensus is that Sacramento will be ripe for another Peripheral Canal debate in 1987. Now is the time to lay the groundwork." I think the time to lay the groundwork for a sensible plan was years ago.

The public, too, has been ignoring the water crisis. The people believe that water is a limitless resource. We must become avid conservers of this priceless commodity. As our population increases, so does the demand for water. If the state and private enterprise want to support this growth, then together they must work to provide water at a reasonable cost.

Southern California is not a tropical paradise. We live in a desert. It will be sad if it comes to water rationing before we remember what the native landscape of Southern California is. The state and the public must together draft a reasonable plan to utilize our water supply wisely. We can not depend on another two flood years.

LAURIE L. STAAB

Montclair

In 1963, my high school civics teacher regaled the class with stories concerning the oil crises that we (the students) would be experiencing in the '70s and '80s. With gas at 30 to 35 cents a gallon, it seemed, at the time, like a foolish idea. Carl Boronkay's article (Editorial Pages, Feb. 27), "We Must Wake Up To Water Needs," brought to mind my high school encounter.

Our existing water system works so well that it is easy to forget the massive work it takes to have potable water available at any time. All that is required is to turn the faucet on and presto, drinkable, relatively clean water. Boronkay's warnings will go unheard, I fear, until a crisis occurs. Then, as he points out, we are faced with a minimum 10-year timetable for solution.

Today it is difficult to remember that the gasoline crises altered and is still altering our economy and the life style we have come to know as Americans. I, for one, would not like to see similar conditions occur over water. Many of our water wells have become polluted beyond use, the water table is dropping, and the government reports on water quality are dismal, to say the least. If we are to ensure an adequate water supply, the time to act is now.

Boronkay appears to be a truly unusual public official in that he not only points out the problem but lists actions that are being taken and further actions that should be taken; all in all, a concise, intelligent article.

THEODORE PETERSON

Reseda

The general manager of the Metropolitan Water District has issued a warning that all Californians should heed: There will be a water shortage in the near future, unless politicians take action and concerned citizens waste less.

Unfortunately, it appears that all talk of water conservation is virtually ignored in Beverly Hills. Having lived in this community for several years, I am appalled by the flagrant misuse of this soon-to-be precious commodity. On my daily jogs, rain or shine, I see gardeners hosing down residential driveways everywhere. Often just to chase a few leaves down to the street. Large concrete surfaces are thoroughly washed down to remove a few blades of grass.

Untold gallons could be saved by using a broom. I have nothing against verdant gardens, but wet-looking driveways should not be necessary.

TROND WOXEN

Beverly Hills

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Boronkay for his informative article on our Southern California water problem.

Those of us living in the Southland must realize that we are all part of a desert environment and water will always be a scarce commodity. Attempting to supply water to an increasingly overpopulated Los Angeles Basin demands serious attention from all of us and will undoubtedly be one of this area's major problems in the future. Care and rationing of our water should be practiced year-round by industry and in our homes to help insure a better future for all those concerned with supplying us our precious liquid.

JOHN R. PARBST

Lakewood

The Metropolitan Water District is right when it says we should wake up to our water future. However, the morning the MWD would have us greet is a far more expensive one than it need be.

Since the advent of massive Central Valley water projects the urban water user and property taxpayer has subsidized the agricultural water users who account for more than 85% of the water use in this state. Because of these subsidies and inefficient water distribution laws and systems, agribusiness in many cases is applying water to crops that are worth less than the water itself. Since the urban ratepayer/taxpayer foots the bill for the real cost of the water there is no incentive to conserve.

The fact is is that there is plenty of developed water in the state for needs well beyond the year 2000. The water allocation structure simply needs to be reformed so that the free market system dictates who will pay for and use water.

Yes, it's time the MWD and DWP wake up to the fact that the urban user is tired of paying for someone else's water, tired of environmentally destructive water projects and tired of monolithic water agencies crying wolf just so that they can continue building their expensive, wasteful pet water projects, which ensure artificially cheap water for agribusiness and ensure that the urban user pays for what he doesn't need.

BERNARD M. BAILEY

Long Beach

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