The Difficulty with Easy Soulutions

"For every complex problem there is a simple solution; and it is always wrong."

H. L. Mencken

There is a curious convergence among recent letters to the editor of the Borrego Sun.

  • The "AAWARE Steering Committee" letter (2/23) arguing for conjunctive use or water banking ignores the fact that, while such a solution is technically possible, it faces huge practical obstacles; e.g., staggering costs, no willing partners, lack of surplus water to be stored, possibly insurmountable regulatory hurdles, etc.
  • R. D. McKee’s letter (3/9) claims that removal of tamarisk trees can reverse the overdraft; but while it is practically possible, though still expensive, to remove the trees, sound theoretical (scientific) evidence for his claim is lacking.
  • William F. Dickson’s letter (3/23) regarding golf courses and the overdraft rightly points out that providing low-flow shower heads and attempts to educate children about water conservation pale to insignificance in light of the magnitude of the problem.
  • All of these, in one way or another, present conjuring images of simple solutions to a complex problem that will delay and divert attention from more effective efforts to deal with the overdraft. The hard truth is that unless demand by farms and golf courses that use 90% of the water can be brought under control, there is no hope of reducing the overdraft in the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, the BWD Board shows an affinity for superficially appealing but patently ineffective proposals and residents of Borrego accept them with nary a whimper.

    Dickson is absolutely right: BWD rate-payers who bear the entire cost of fixing the problem caused by irrigators must demonstrate their outrage over these gross inequities in no uncertain terms and insist that the BWD step up and make the difficult decisions necessary to avoid economic and environmental disaster in this enchanted valley. Alas, that requires more foresight, circumspection, intellect and courage than is in evidence on that august body; and they will never do it unless BWD ratepayers bring unbearable pressure to bear on them.

    See also:  Conjunctive Use:  A Reality Check


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