To Governor Gray Davis, August 2002
August 1, 2002
Dear Gov. Davis:
Friends of the Gualala River (FoGR) was very pleased to learn that the California Democratic Party’s platform opposes “any proposal to export water from the Gualala and Albion rivers.”
Alaska Water Exports (AWE) has asked for rights to export water from the Gualala and Albion Rivers to San Diego. AWE is seeking to collect water from the alluvial layer within each river’s estuary, pipe the water to mooring stations offshore of the mouths of the rivers, and transport the water using bags with an area of 850 x 250 feet and a capacity of 50,000 metric tonnes. One bag would be filled each day at each river from October to May. Although this is a large amount of water relative to the flow in our small rivers, it is quite small relative San Diego’s needs.
There are many reasons why this is a bad scheme. Here are a few of them:
- If granted, the applications will set a precedent. We expect there will be repeated attempts by entrepreneurs from outside California to profit from California’s water needs. Since AWE is affiliated with Saudi, Japanese, and Norwegian interests, there is some risk that the citizens of California will lose control of their water resources to interests with no stake in California or even the United States.
- Economic reasons – the north coast of California depends on tourists who come because of our natural resources and the exquisite beauty of our coast and rivers. Any degradation of the environment translates into fewer tourists and fewer jobs.
- Environmental reasons – these rivers once were internationally famous for their Coho salmon and steelhead trout. State-funded and private volunteer projects have begun to restore the habitats for these fish. The scheme would do significant damage to the estuary habitat during the construction and maintenance of the intakes, pumps, and pipelines. Diversion of the water from the estuaries will disrupt the precarious habitat balance for Coho, steelhead, and many other species.
The mooring stations lie across the migration paths for California gray whales and other marine mammals. The continuing tug-and-bag operations pose a threat to this wildlife.
We appreciate the Democratic Party sharing our concern about this scheme and ask you to join in strong opposition to it and others like it.
Friends of the Gualala River