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Southland's Water Needs

March 11, 1985

Your editorial (Feb. 19), "Water, Optimism, but--," was right on target. But you failed to mention one major point: It will take 10 years to build facilities to provide us with water.

That's why it is urgent for the public and private sector to find the answer to our water supply problem now.

While the Colorado River reservoirs are full today--a potential drought could occur next year, or the year after. Anyone who doesn't believe in the unpredictability of weather need only to have lived in Southern California this winter. And remember 1976-77? Two dry years in a row wiped out all surpluses.

Back then, the agency that provides this region with half of its water, Metropolitan Water District, turned to the Colorado River to make up its shortages. This option is no longer available. What happens when the Central Arizona Project starts operating? As you state, MWD will not be denied the use of any excess "so long as there is enough water in the river for everyone." If a drought hits the West, there won't be a surplus.

Now is the time to mobilize a bipartisan effort in the Legislature to end the stalemate that has dragged on for more than a decade over construction of a Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta facility.

So far, we have been very lucky, because completion of the Central Arizona Project was delayed, and we had several years of ample rainfall.

We can no longer afford to wait and to continue an endless debate. We must move forward with construction for the general welfare and economic progress of the entire state of California.


Supervisor, Fifth District

Los Angeles

Your editorial was the right message at the right time.

It is easy during times such as now, when water is abundant, to be complacent about the long-range planning needed to guarantee supplies for Los Angeles and the rest of Southern California.

We hope your analysis of the problems facing water suppliers will lead the way to a political consensus on the issues in Sacramento. Your message will bolster our efforts to make known the dangers ahead.


Los Angeles

Lane is general manager and chief engineer of the Los Angeles City Department of Water and Power.

I am concerned with the state's lack of planning in connection with Southern California's water supply. At the end of this year, Arizona will receive its rightful share of water from the Colorado River. But Southern Californians can rest easy because we will be allowed to use any extra water, and the past two years have been flood years.

Is this any way to plan? Does the state require another year of drought before affirmative action is taken? Obviously, yes.

Your editorial concludes that "The political consensus is that Sacramento will be ripe for another Peripheral Canal debate in 1987. Now is the time to lay the groundwork." I think the time to lay the groundwork for a sensible plan was years ago.

The public, too, has been ignoring the water crisis. The people believe that water is a limitless resource. We must become avid conservers of this priceless commodity. As our population increases, so does the demand for water. If the state and private enterprise want to support this growth, then together they must work to provide water at a reasonable cost.

Southern California is not a tropical paradise. We live in a desert. It will be sad if it comes to water rationing before we remember what the native landscape of Southern California is. The state and the public must together draft a reasonable plan to utilize our water supply wisely. We can not depend on another two flood years.



In 1963, my high school civics teacher regaled the class with stories concerning the oil crises that we (the students) would be experiencing in the '70s and '80s. With gas at 30 to 35 cents a gallon, it seemed, at the time, like a foolish idea. Carl Boronkay's article (Editorial Pages, Feb. 27), "We Must Wake Up To Water Needs," brought to mind my high school encounter.

Our existing water system works so well that it is easy to forget the massive work it takes to have potable water available at any time. All that is required is to turn the faucet on and presto, drinkable, relatively clean water. Boronkay's warnings will go unheard, I fear, until a crisis occurs. Then, as he points out, we are faced with a minimum 10-year timetable for solution.

Today it is difficult to remember that the gasoline crises altered and is still altering our economy and the life style we have come to know as Americans. I, for one, would not like to see similar conditions occur over water. Many of our water wells have become polluted beyond use, the water table is dropping, and the government reports on water quality are dismal, to say the least. If we are to ensure an adequate water supply, the time to act is now.

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