Letters to the Editor: Gavin Newsom’s very presidential blunder on water

A biologist stands beside the bones of a dead Chinook salmon on the banks of the Sacramento River in Redding on Jan. 20.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: If there was any doubt about his presidential ambitions, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision to favor billionaires growing highly exported, water-intensive crops over native salmon reveals the answer.

Salmon don’t vote, make political contributions or confer with business interests nationally. They depend on our state leaders to protect them.

Newsom’s decision to cut river flows in favor of storage even after recent storms is a disappointing prioritization of profits for a few over the long-term needs of a declining natural resource that feeds Californians healthy protein.


Think about this as the next drought restrictions for Angelenos are imposed by the Colorado River negotiations, and remember that water is the other word for politics in our beloved state.

Carrie Chassin, Encino


To the editor: Thanks to Skelton for his continued coverage of our water shortage, or what Newsom calls the “drought.”

The signs in the Central Valley that declared “food grows where water flows” became annoying when I realized they were talking about overseas almond lovers’ food. It was enough to make a guy become an “America firster.”

Having lived in California almost 60 years, and having driven north many times each year, I’ve watched the way agriculture has changed. The first few years after the 5 Freeway opened, one drove through desert in the San Joaquin Valley. Available water changed that.

But for me, the most remarkable change was the miles and miles of almond trees I increasingly began to pass. I’ve come to believe using so much water for nonessential cash crops is wasteful, and the salmon that depend on river flows aren’t the only creatures suffering.


Robert Von Bargen, Santa Monica


To the editor: On behalf of the Southern California Water Coalition, I applaud Newsom’s swift action to keep more water in reservoirs by suspending a 1999 regulation temporarily.

We see this as a common-sense, prudent action to allow California to adapt in the face of changed climate conditions and severe pressure on the state’s other main source of supply, the Colorado River. Let’s hold on to this water now in case drier times are ahead.

That 1999 regulation, a fairly rigid rule tied to water-year type, was correctly suspended this February and March. It is incumbent on us all to support balanced, beneficial uses and time the release of water supplies to ensure we have the water that is needed for health and safety water for our urban communities, to sustain our economy and farms, and to protect our ecosystems and natural habitats.

Charles Wilson, Corona


The writer is executive director of the Southern California Water Coalition.