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Letters: Arguing over water

Re "Drying up the delta," March 23

Bettina Boxall's front-page article — accompanied by striking photos of flooded fields being fed by scarce water from sources that also supply our vanishing Northern California delta — is all the testimony that we should need to impress upon us the grotesque priorities that we are still following in allocating our state's most critical natural resource.

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Those priorities mean that we are growing rice for shipment to Asia by flooding an expanding desert landscape in the heart of the Central Valley, while millions of Californians are experiencing a disastrous water shortage and we deprive our most productive growers of reasonable access to water.

Richard J. Steckel

Santa Barbara

It must be argued that the policies of the last 25 years of extreme environmental hostility in the name of environmental protection are the underlying reason for today's drought catastrophe.

Attempts have been made for years in the policy arena to provide water to the state's urban, agriculture and environmental users. Policymakers have been stymied by environmental activists, multiple state water bonds and congressional action.

California's population has doubled since the time our governor's father had the vision to create common ground and build the projects that serve our population-rich, water-poor southern regions with water from the less-populated, water-rich north. In return, it provides industry and jobs that fuel our state's economy.

It is time for leaders to build a future that can sustain our growing population and provide more of the resource no one can live without: water.

Wendy Turner

Hermosa Beach

Finally some light is cast on the egregious practice of growing rice in the Sacramento Valley.

Drought in California has been making its presence known for years; time enough for these farmers to segue from crops requiring vast amounts of water to those more suitable to our water-compromised environment.

Richard Klinger

Sherman Oaks

The article confuses progressive, 21st century water management with historical water policies.

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The Sacramento Valley is a California treasure. It is a truly exceptional bucolic landscape that looks and feels very different from the Los Angeles basin and the Owens Valley, largely because the region's water resources managers are fully engaged in progressive water management.

The article does not tell the full story of water use for rice in our region. Grown in heavy clay soils with improved varieties, which yield more rice and less plant material, as well as precision leveling of fields, rice has become a much more water-efficient crop.

It takes about the same amount of water to grow a serving of rice as it does oranges or broccoli.

The Sacramento Valley has partnered with Southern California and other parts of the state for four decades to creatively provide water for these different regions.

David J. Guy

Sacramento

The writer is president of the Northern California Water Assn.

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