Steven Pearlstein perpetuates a widely held fallacy about water in Canada and the United States. In "Canada's Spigot Not Open for U.S." [news story, Aug. 22], he argues that "with 20 percent of the world's supply of fresh water, Canada has more water than it could ever need . . . but don't count on Canadians sharing any of it."

In "Water," a new book on the global crisis in water management, Marq de Villiers points out that in fact Canada holds 5.6 percent of the world's fresh water -- roughly on par with China. He also points out that the United States "has a theoretical availability of over 9,000 cubic meters per person per year, more than five times the stress level" but that pollution, waste and antiquated water laws in many states stand in the way of the proper utilization of these resources.

Canada and the United States have the highest per capita consumptions of fresh water in the world. We squander it without any thought about consequences -- or needs in other parts of the world. As a Canadian, I favor sharing Canada's water resources with Americans or anybody else who faces drought and hardship from shortage. But let's be clear: The real problem is not one of shortage. It's one of conservation and management.

Instead of eyeing your neighbor's pasture for a quick solution, how about fixing up your own lawn?

-- Kim W. Boyd