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FoGR: Fred Euphrat’s commentary on KQED

Fred Euphrat’s commentary on KQED

This perspective aired recently
on Public Radio station KQED-FM

My well puts out about 20 gallons per minute of great water. So good, in fact, I’m thinking of bottling it. Some clever name and a cool plastic bottle – it worked for Calistoga, why not me?

Seems everyone’s going into the water business these days… and bottles are only the beginning. On the Sonoma and Mendocino Coasts, a company called Aqueous, under the guidance of one Ric Davidge, wants to bag – not bottle – enough water for 30 thousand homes and tow it to San Diego. Think of twenty giant rubber icebergs a week, all winter long.

Like bottling my well water, Aqueous is grabbing a resource that’s Free for the Taking and moving it to market. But what’s the market? Up to 60% of the water will be used for lawns, for washing sidewalks, and landscaping. The rest will go down the drain and out to sea.

With international backing and James Watt’s Interior Department on his resume, Davidge argues that he’s simply taking the water that’s ‘surplus’ from the Gualala and Albion Rivers. Surplus is a relative term. If all ‘surplus’ water were sucked up, there would be no flow of freshwater to the oceans.

We have Marine Reserves off San Francisco, Point Reyes and Monterey. The Reserves protect ecosystems that depend on flows from coastal rivers. Our estuaries are among the most diverse and productive areas on earth.

But this is not only about protection – it’s also about planning. Why do people believe that clean water comes from somewhere else AND is infinite? Green lawns are great, but they are a luxury when water doesn’t pour from the skies.

The Governor is about to sign a bill, sponsored by Assemblymember Pat Wiggins, for a five-year study of the effects of ‘waterbagging’ on the coastal environment. It’s a great start.

Meanwhile, Aqueous’ permits, seeking State approval to shuffle water for a hundred thousand people down the coast, are now before the State Water Resources Control Board, within the 60 day public comment period.

As for getting water to San Diego…. I’ve got a few bottles I can ship down there, Fed Ex. After all, it’s priceless.

With a perspective, this is Fred Euphrat.

Mr. Euphrat is a forester and hydrologist, with a doctorate in watershed management from the University of California, Berkeley.

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