Letters to the Editor: Declaring the drought over in California is extremely shortsighted

Lake Oroville
Lake Oroville, shown Feb. 8, has steadily refilled after the early winter storms that drenched much of California.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Columnist George Skelton believes it’s “fiction” to say California is still in a drought. He couldn’t be more wrong.

Many scientists view California as being in a permanent state of drought, greatly exacerbated by climate change. The fact that we have recently had a short period of significant rain with some reservoirs partially refilled doesn’t really change that.

We can be almost certain that our weather patterns will return to their dry ways. Even the critical Sierra Nevada mountain snow pack melts more quickly now, with more of the water evaporating before we can use it. Many groundwater wells remain very low or dry. The Colorado River remains perilously low.


Los Angeles will eventually treat, recycle and reuse most of its water to survive, but it will take decades to build the necessary systems to accomplish that.

When we declare the drought over, conservation will backslide because of human nature. We need to keep residents conserving and agriculture moving to more efficient irrigation and crops that demand less water.

Declaring the drought over is a recipe for disaster.

Paul Koretz, Los Angeles

The writer is a former member of the L.A. City Council and Metropolitan Water District Board.


To the editor: Skelton’s column on the drought was refreshing (no pun intended). It’s on point and concisely refutes the doom-and-gloom liberals and radical environmentalists who have a stranglehold on the media.


It was particularly interesting to see his column appear in the paper adjacent to the photos showing Lake Oroville in June of last year and more full recently. Perhaps the current situation will lead to more initiatives to better harvest and store water during periods of excessive rainfall and melting snow pack, which appear to be gaining some traction.

Hopefully, Skelton’s constructive view will also lead to more balanced reporting on any number of issues.

Brian McGrath, Santa Barbara


To the editor: Yes, we got a lot of rain and snow this year, but we also had a lot of precipitation in 2004, 2011 and 2017. Lake Oroville was so blessed with water in 2017 that it overflowed onto its spillway, pulverizing the concrete.

However, those wet years were followed by extreme dryness, with storage in reservoirs dropping precipitously. Remember the significant rain we got in December 2021? We got next to nothing for the rest of the rainy season.


Also, a large portion of the water supply for Southern California comes from the Colorado River, which remains in a historic 23-year-long drought.

If you have a problem with using the term “drought” now, just say this: “Even though this current rainy season has temporarily eased water supply issues in California, we know that, from past experience, this will not last. We should use this respite to expand our efforts in water conservation, storage, groundwater replenishment and recycling.”

Because California will never be as wet as we would like it to be.

Earle Hartling, Culver City

The writer is the retired water recycling coordinator for the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts.