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Environmental Group Chides CBS For Story On State Water Woes

An economic analyst with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is criticizing a recent CBS 60-minutes report on California's water problems.

The report, called "California: Running Dry," describes how pumping restrictions to protect endangered fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta reduces water supply to cities and farms in the state.

Spreck Rosenkrans is an EDF economic analyst based in San Francisco. He says the report missed an opportunity to explain how conservation and other measures could ease supply problems.

"Cities have certainly learned to use local supplies in more efficient ways and to store more of their supplies in their groundwater," said Rosenkrans.

But he says "60 Minutes" focused on the "fish vs. farms" angle, where rulings under the Endangered Species Act to prevent extinction were presented as the sole cause of reduced water availability to many farmers.

Rosenkrans said the only solution presented was for Californians to spend up to $40 billion "for a complete fix" that would include new dams and a peripheral canal.

"The biggest opportunity is to make sure that anybody in the state can invest in water conservation somewhere else in the state and try and free up those supplies," said Rosenkrans. "This is true in the urban areas and it's true in the agricultural areas."

He said some water users are more efficient in managing the resource.

Rosenkrans said in many parts of California average water use is less than 100 gallons per person per day, while in other areas the average is more than 300 gallons per day.

He said metering residential water use would be one way to create another incentive for conservation.

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