Solving State’s Water Needs

I read Isenberg’s commentary with interest. He is absolutely correct in stating that we all need to work together to survive the drought and to plan for the future so we do not find ourselves so vulnerable again. I would like to take issue, however, with Isenberg’s comments about agriculture’s use of water.

He repeats the often-stated assertion that agriculture uses 85% of California’s water. The fact is that agriculture uses about 85% of the developed water. There is enough water in California to satisfy our needs almost indefinitely. A challenge, as Isenberg correctly says, is to develop projects so untapped water resources can be distributed.

I also think it is unfair to suggest all farmers are in a position to conserve large quantities of water. Many of us in agriculture have done about all we can to conserve water.

Some even suggest that farmers should be prevented from growing certain crops that use more water than others. Again, this sounds easier than it is. Take alfalfa, for example, a crop that does require more water than some others. If we had to import this important livestock feed crop from out of state, there would be many adverse consequences. The price of dairy products would skyrocket. Those who raise horses and other livestock could see the price of hay more than double.


Agriculture is still California’s leading industry. Its contribution to the state’s overall economic well-being should not be forgotten or minimized.

Like everyone else in the state, agriculture does need to help solve our water problems. But agriculture should not be expected to do it alone.

DAVID G. KELLEY, Assemblymen, R-Hemet