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Readers React: We’ve neglected water projects for too long. It’s time to start building and maintaining again

Commuters drive in the rain in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
(Frederic J. Brown / AFP/Getty Images)

To the editor: However well intentioned, Southern California’s early “flood control” efforts led to the drained aquifers of today. (“When California needs to flush its stormwater out to sea — and when it doesn’t,” editorial, March 21)

I literally teethed on this subject. My grandfather spent the majority of his career as an engineer on water projects starting from the Roosevelt Dam in 1911 through Grand Coulee in 1943, including the Central Valley Project, the Owens Valley project, the State Water Project and the Colorado River Project.

Raise the Shasta Dam? Engineers design dams, not politicians. Shasta was carefully designed to maximize water retention and still remain stable. Raising the dam’s height could create an unsustainable structure.

Many and varied solutions need to be applied, from refurbishing and maintaining the projects that we have, revising the ones that retard water retention, and building carefully conceived projects to enhance retention. All projects must have locked-in funds for continued maintenance.

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Decades of deferred maintenance and complacency must be reversed now (witness the near disaster of the Oroville Dam last year). We have gone beyond a crisis situation, and we require leadership and action, not conversation.

Harvey Cordner, Pasadena

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To the editor: As a recent graduate with a degree in environmental science who is embarking on a career in sustainability, I want to thank the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board for arguing that Los Angeles needs to invest in capturing stormwater to augment local water supplies rather than invest in business-as-usual water imports.

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Climate scientists warn us that California will continue to whiplash between drought and drenched. The best way to combat unpredictability is for Los Angeles to capture stormwater when it rains heavily so we can meet our needs during times of drought.

With another round of major storms ending now, we can all look out the window to see polluted stormwater flooding our streets and communities. I hope Angelenos will understand how this could make them water-secure instead of being the biggest pollutant of our rivers and beaches, and remember this when voting to fund stormwater capture projects this November.

Hannah Sands, Los Angeles

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