Editor's Note: As politicans and CEOs persist in denying the reality of climate change and Californians face a dire water shortage, we found this July 1981 archival piece particularly sobering reading. While Californians have made strides in reducing water use, the changes may be too little, too late. Reid reported:
Each year, agriculture lowers the state's water table by an amount sufficient to supply Los Angeles residents with water for five years. With no incentive to conserve, farmers expand onto ever more marginal lands. They channel 82 per cent of their irrigation water through open ditches, an irrigation method that is vastly cheaper than sprinklers or drip irrigation—and far more wasteful of water; fields fed by ditches require five times as much water as fields watered by sprinkler and 100 times as much water as drip-irrigated fields.
Nor are effective constraints placed on urban consumers. Many California cities do not meter water; customers pay a flat rate no matter how much water they use. Southern Californians continue to indulge in the regional custom of hosing down their driveways on Saturday afternoon.
Download the full piece in PDF form below.