Big water


Regarding your story "Liquid Assets," this summer at Mount Shasta I learned from locals that Shasta Dam releases, in August, were running at the equivalent of the spring flood stage. Why would we do that during a drought, in a period fraught with intense pressure to build more dams, canals and other forms of water infrastructure (HCN, 10/13/08)?

I urge HCN to take a deeper look at water issues in California. Water banking may be part of the solution; it certainly is to large water agencies. And so are water transfer deals, which you've also reported on -- where farmers get water at a cheap rate from the state, and then sell back to water agencies at significant profits, facilitating development. That, combined with the suite of proposed big water projects including banks, deserves scrutiny. Who gains? Who loses? The long-term ecological welfare of the state, the ultimate public good, is at stake.

Our long-term water policy, and the projects we engage in now, should include maintaining our cherished ecosystems by allocating appropriate flows to them, and then dividing up the rest, incorporating serious conservation as a starting point.

Jessica Hall
Los Angeles, California