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Criticisms of Water Policies Are All Wet

January 26, 2005

Re "Rainfall Windfall," editorial, Jan. 13: Like The Times, Southern California's water planners have been intrigued by the rainwater runoff that flows to the ocean during the wet season. To say, however, that we've taken a "careless" approach to the issue is downright irresponsible.

Despite The Times' suggestion that our region is behind the curve, we're in fact on the cutting edge. Pioneering efforts to capture large amounts of storm water have taken place in Los Angeles and Orange counties, including a major Whittier Narrows facility where rainwater percolates into groundwater basins. In 2004, the Metropolitan Water District's Innovative Supply Program funded five projects to use storm water runoff to recharge groundwater basins.

The district also assembled a 10-member team to report on logistical challenges involved in large-scale implementation of such projects as the Sun Valley effort cited by The Times.

Confronting the threat that polluted urban runoff poses to our beaches, storm drains and watersheds will enhance the viability of storm water as a potential drinking water source.

Though the recent storms are a water bonanza, such rains are rare. Can we cost-effectively take advantage of events that happen only once every 10 to 20 years? In the end, even in the best-case scenario, storm water runoff would provide only a small fraction of our water supply.

Gilbert F. Ivey

Interim CEO, Metropolitan

Water District of Southern

California, Los Angeles

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