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Know the West

Water made simple — much too simple

  I was both astounded and disappointed by your simplistic analysis of water issues in the article, "Taking the West Forward" (HCN, 12/6/04: Taking the West Forward). HCN states matter-of-factly that additional freshwater needs to be moved to meet the evolving needs of the West’s urban areas, and offers an unqualified endorsement of lining rural earthen canals with concrete to prevent seepage. The primary evolving water needs of urban areas in the West are caused by sprawl that destroys wildlands and that paves over (or lawns over) fertile farmland. That seepage from earthen canals percolates through the soil to replenish groundwater aquifers, and those concrete lining projects you praised are often undertaken over the objections of — rather than with the cooperation of — the farmers whose farms overlie this groundwater.

The issues and solutions are far more complex than HCN indicates.

Paul Stanton Kibel, Policy West
Alameda, California