Opinion » Letters

Vineyards should be more responsible with water

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Water, water everywhere; oh no now it’s nowhere. What do we do? Residential use consumes 20 percent of all the state’s water. I read recently that today we are using less per capita than we were in the 1980s. That sounds like responsible use of our resource.

Now that Gov. Brown has mandated a 25 percent reduction, the question I have to ask is how do we do it? Having already installed low-flow faucets, ultra low-flush toilets, reduced the number of loads of laundry, limited shower length to five minutes, and use “used” dish water for the few plants we have, what else can we do? We are already at a minimal use of our precious resource. My car hasn’t been washed in years! After we have done everything we can, has the water usage meter dropped by 25 percent? I don’t think so.

So the battle line will have to be drawn, because who is going to voluntarily shut off water to agriculture? I think we have to enlist those on the planning commissions who allowed the millions of acres to be placed on the agricultural list, all those wine vineyards along highways 101, 41, and 46 that stretch as far as the eye can see. They are going to have to tell them: “Sorry, your investment is going to be affected.” The homeowners who have lived in this area for years can no longer afford to drill deeper just because the vintners can. It’s not fair. The fact is the vineyards should not be here. This is a semi arid plain.

I don’t think the rest of us should suffer because people have planted a crop that uses more water than all the people that live in the state. Let me ask it another way: Do you think it’s fair that your business could eventually cost the lives of 30-plus million people? Or more realistically, think about what you are doing to the aquifer—land is actually sinking. It’s not an easy problem; I think we all get that, but this isn’t an easy drought. I go back 60-plus years, plus my parents and several more generations, farming in California. None have ever seen a string of years with so little water. I mean no snow in the Sierras, what the … ?

-- George Robertson - Morro Bay

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