Who's wallowing in water?

While your article "California Rethinks Water Issues," June 3, is timely, it incorrectly states that farmers are using 80 percent of the state's water and implies that the environment is getting shortchanged. Although about 80 percent of the developed water is used for irrigated agriculture, this represents less than 30 percent of the total water supply of the state. Environmental uses such as scenic rivers, instream uses, and wetlands compromise 65 percent of this total runoff.

Recent demands by environmentalists to take from agriculture's 30 percent to dump additional water into the ocean in unproven efforts to protect endangered species will severely reduce irrigated acreage in an agricultural state, affect our food supply, and substantially increase unemployment.

Certainly there is more competition for California's limited water supply, but let's not give agriculture a bad rap in describing it. Arnold S. Rummelsburg, Bakersfield, Calif.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please fax letters to (617) 450-2317 or address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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