Letters to the Editor: 1.3 billion pounds of unsold almonds — that’s a lot of water

Almonds enter a processing machine in Manteca, Calif., on July 24.
(Paul Kuroda / For The Times)

To the editor: Given the severity of our current drought, I was surprised to see an article about the massive surplus of unsold almonds that ignored the 7.5 million acre-feet of water embedded in the 1.3 billion pounds of almonds waiting to be exported. That’s enough water to meet the needs of all 39 million Californians for a whole year.

For me, the story isn’t that corporate agribusinesses are losing money because of supply chain issues; it’s whether expanding acreage of a water-intensive crop to 2,500 square miles, or half the size of Los Angeles County, is the best use of a precious public resource.

Too many Californians don’t have safe water in their households because corporate agribusinesses have over-pumped or polluted groundwater supplies. Iconic salmon are headed toward extinction because California over-allocates the water in our rivers. And the reservoirs that help carry us through dry periods are at the lowest levels in history because our demands have exceeded what nature can provide.


For those of us working to protect our water through science-based policy and advocating for equitable solutions to the impacts of climate change on water reliability, not highlighting the effect these almonds have on water supplies for the people and ecosystems that depend on them is an oversight that must be called out.

Tracy Quinn, Santa Monica

The writer is chief executive of Heal the Bay.