Abused Subsidies and Western Water Distribution

Regarding the article, "The Sun is Setting on a Century of Concrete Waterways Out West," June 18: I applaud your airing of this important natural-resource issue. However, your focus on the deleterious environmental effects of massive water development projects makes this out to be just a local or regional issue, rather than the national issue that it really is.These projects are on public lands and literally amount to a massive taxpayer subsidy providing cheap water to a relatively small number of farmers and ranchers. Our tax dollars pay 83 percent of the capital and operating costs of these farmers' water. The original Reclamation Act of 1902 was to provide low-cost water to farmers working 160 acres or less. Under pressure from Congress and its corporate farmer sponsors, this size restriction was raised to 960 acres in 1982. Even with this acreage increase, the system is still abused and poorly enforced, with water-receiving farms of several thousand acres being quite commonplace. I prefer farms to subdivisions, but this taxpayer subsidy of environmental destruction and water must be reformed. Matt Huston, Washington

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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