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Letters to the Editor: Don’t even think about stealing Columbia River water, L.A.

Two men walk on the dry Owens Lake bed in the Owens Valley.
L.A.'s diversion of water from the Owens River starting in the early 20th century largely desiccated what was once productive farmland.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Lord help us in the Pacific Northwest if people in Los Angeles think like one of your letter writers who favors solving the drought by diverting water from the Columbia River through some sort of pipeline to Southern California. This idea is absurd on its face.

More importantly, the Columbia River, mighty as it once was, has been dammed beyond recognition and is also affected by climate change. Longtime native Oregonians recognize the dramatically receding flow of the river, the many exposed sandbars, the dead fish and the mile-long walk to reach the water in the Portland area.

There are innumerable cities, towns and communities that depend on the Columbia River for their livelihood and electricity. Portland is a “deep water” port some 100 miles up river from the mouth and the Pacific Ocean. Tens of thousands of cars, trucks and other vehicles arrive here from Asia via the Columbia.

California needs to drastically start conserving more and generating new ideas for quenching the thirst of its almost 40 million people. The Columbia River and its tributaries are already tapped to the maximum to meet the needs of the region and much of the rest of the western U.S.

Roger Baron, Portland, Ore.

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To the editor: One letter writer thinks William Mulholland was a visionary because he built the aqueduct from the Owens Valley to Los Angeles more than 100 years ago.

Before then, the Owens Valley was an agricultural paradise. Then Mulholland stole its water and turned it into a dust bowl. You can see for yourself driving up Highway 395.

As for Mulholland making Los Angeles the city it is today, from my viewpoint, L.A. is an insular Disneyland where the people truly believe that all the water in the western United States belongs to them. Thus, it’s perfectly sensible to steal water from the agricultural and tribal people who live on the Columbia River.

Perhaps the next water visionary will decide instead to build a string of desalination plants along the California coastline and use the abundant resource that is right there. Los Angeles would be awash in fresh water, only this time the city wouldn’t have to steal it from people who grow food for them.

Sue Cauhape, Minden, Nev.


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