Saturday, April 18, 2015     Volume: 16, Issue: 6
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Santa Maria Sun / Letters to the Editor

Farmers--including almond growers--don't take water for granted

Carolyn Sokol - Templeton -

This letter is being written with the hope of broadening the views of Karen Juran (“A ‘nut’ case,” April 9) and those who agree with her that the governor is being too soft on farmers. Please understand that this drought affects us all—some more than others. People who live in town may lose their lawns; farmers lose not only their lawns but their crops, which translates to their source of income and ultimately their homes. If the crops fail, we all lose food. California feeds most of the United States and parts of the rest of the world. If the U.S. loses its ability to feed its citizens, then we will have to depend on the rest of the world to feed us. If that happens, we (the U.S. citizens) will be essentially owned by those countries who will then have the power of life or death over us.

As a farmer, I respect water, and it is not taken for granted. The occasional rupture of a waterline is a tragedy to me. I have already lost my lawns and pastures. I am trying to preserve my orchards. I am learning to re-capture gray water. And I hope to grow produce for you, Karen, and that we can get through this drought together.

PS: My few almond trees each consume 2 gallons of water per hour, eight hours per day, one day per week. Being deciduous, they get watered roughly nine to 10 months per year. That is about 640 gallons per year. I assure you they each produce well over 1 pound of almonds each. (I’ve never kept track of the poundage, but it is a lot more than 1 pound.) I don’t know where NBC News got its numbers for almond trees, but it is dead wrong, and I suspect the numbers for broccoli and rice are equally questionable.


Public distrust of PG&E's 'Culture of Safety'

Milton Carrigan - San Luis Obispo -

On a recent Thursday, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) levied a record $1.6 billion penalty on PG&E for the 2010 gas pipeline explosion that killed eight in the San Francisco suburb of San Bruno. Since the explosion, PG&E has been issued many safety citations by the CPUC. Not surprisingly the commission plans to launch a formal investigation into the utility’s “culture of safety.”

There are steps that PG&E can take to persuade the commission and the public that it has a genuine culture of safety. Slick public relations ads aren’t among them. Consideration of safety recommendations of CPUC independent peer review panels, on the other hand, are. Last month, such a panel expressed concern regarding the adequacy of PG&E using only two earthquakes in estimating seismic safety at Diablo Canyon and made recommendations to improve the study. PG&E ignored these recommendations and refused follow-up meetings with the CPUC panel, missing an opportunity to demonstrate commitment to an authentic culture of safety.