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Readers React: Drought is the new normal for California -- but we need to build more housing?

To the editor: The Times has published an interesting juxtaposition of articles in the last few days. One speaks of the need for more housing to keep rents and housing prices affordable, and this Op-Ed article, “Is the California drought America’s water wake-up call?” (April 16), discusses how a water deficit may be our new normal.

If drought is defined as an insufficiency of water to meet current needs, one wonders why we would consider building ourselves into a state of permanent drought. The addition of thousands of new buildings and homes will negate any current water conservation efforts and deplete a resource that we can’t make more of.

We can build more roads and more power plants, but water is about to become our limiting resource.

In the conflict between affordable housing and sufficient water for the current population, maybe we should accept that we cannot build our way to affordable housing and instead make water-smart decisions about future growth.

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Susan Skinner, Newport Beach

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To the editor: In his piece, water scientist Jay Famiglietti writes, “Managing only surface water while ignoring groundwater is a fool’s game, since municipalities and farmers will compensate for reduced surface water by pumping unregulated groundwater.”

In the same paper, there’s a full-page Arrowhead water ad paid for by Nestle Waters North America. This company is eager to continue pumping water from public lands with minimal annual costs.

A five-year hiatus on such deals with bottlers makes sense until studies enabled by the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act signed by Gov. Jerry Brown are finished and a cohesive plan for managing the state’s groundwater is developed.

Nestle is currently in the process of renewing its contracts.

Joan Beasley, Palm Desert

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To the editor: Famiglietti has written an important, objective message that every elected official in California should read carefully. It contrasts with the shallow reporting the media crank out.

The severely depleted conditions of California’s aquifers deserve continuing quantitative reporting. The fact is that one or two epic El Niños would not come close to ending the drought. We all need to listen continuously to scientists like Famiglietti and be wary of pronouncement by politicians.

Water is California’s biggest problem of the 21st century, and it will not go away for a very long time.

Sherman N. Mullin, Oxnard

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