In addition to conservation, farmers in the Central Valley should be prohibited from growing alfalfa, rice and other water-intensive crops. Furthermore, the true price of water should be charged to everyone. Market forces would make it sensible to conserve, and those forces might then also make desalination plants feasible.
However, desalination is, at best, a small part of the solution: It requires a huge amount of power to purify water and thus makes an even bigger problem elsewhere. Countries that have started using desalination are either small, extremely wealthy and in possession of vast energy resources (like Saudi Arabia) or have instituted very aggressive conservation programs (like Australia).
More wells and more diversions of fresh-water sources are simply not solutions. We already withdraw water from wells faster than replacement rates, and to say that we should divert fresh water from more sources is ludicrous. We live way beyond our water means and there just aren’t more fresh water sources out there.
We all must be part of the solution and be more deeply reflective about our own behavior rather than simply trying to support pathological behavior through technological fixes. The water problem is so serious that columnists owe it to the community to engage in serious analysis rather than superficial polemic. Ms Brenner's solutions [“Conservation doesn’t solve problem,” Forum, April 28], and particularly her concluding paragraph, are deeply resonant with Marie Antoinette's apocryphal solution to the bread shortage among peasants: “Let them eat cake.”
Lisa Novick and Nicholas Warner
La Cañada Flintridge