Letters to the Editor: Sprinklers in the rain, lush lawns and other ways L.A. is still failing on water

Sprinklers water grass and flowers outside a Beverlywood home in Los Angeles on June 1.
Sprinklers water grass and flowers outside a Beverlywood home in Los Angeles on June 1.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: A visionary water czar for L.A. County is no longer needed? I disagree with The Times’ editorial board.

Every morning when we take our walk, my husband and I see puddles on streets and rivulets in gutters, the runoff from sprinklers. A couple of weeks ago, we saw a lawn being doused by a neighbor’s irrigation system during a heavy rainstorm.

Our water crisis is not going to disappear because of a few weeks of rain. The proof is in the pictures of Lake Mead’s water level.


We all need to give up the dream of lush green lawns and profusely flowering borders. We live in California, not England (or New England). California natives are the only landscaping plants that make sense here.

We need not one, but many visionaries. In fact, all homeowners need to be water czars in their own backyards.

Janice Blake, Manhattan Beach


To the editor: Your editorial about capturing rainfall locally is well-taken. Our region is slowly learning to store and use local water supplies more efficiently, and it does take time to build and adapt.

One point you raised about the pitfalls of having a “Mulholland-like water czar” deserves comment.

It was not so much William Mulholland’s contempt for committees and bureaucrats that led to the failure of the St. Francis Dam in 1928. His desire to build more reservoir storage near Los Angeles quickly and cheaply was a major contributing factor to the construction of a low-budget, under-designed dam in a canyon that had been under-scrutinized for its geological suitability for water storage.


His judgment on the matter went largely unchallenged, and this was also part of the tragic failure of the dam and accompanying loss of life.

Fred Barker, Burbank

The writer is a retired waterworks engineer at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.