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ICO Editorial: Owning the River

This editorial was published in the
Independent Coast Observer
on October 18, 2002.

Owning the River
By J. Stephen McLaughlin

Courtesy Independent Coast Observer, Gualala, CA

Ric Davidge’s plans for the Gualala River isn’t so much about dragging bags of Gualala water to San Diego so urbanites can wash their cars and water their lawns. It’s about ownership and control, and the conversion of a natural resource into an ever-scarcer commodity on the open market.

If Davidge convinces the state of California to give him and his business partners rights to water from the Gualala and Albion Rivers, he will likely make a show of “good faith” performance to establish those water rights, in the process trashing the estuaries of the rivers and setting up an industrial operation just offshore of our town.

Then, he can wait. He can wait for San Diego and other thirsty cities to exhaust their other water options, while Davidge hijacks other California rivers and streams with the same water-grab scheme.

The water barons will have set up their own version of OPEC — but instead of oil, this time it’s life-giving water that will be held hostage to the market.

Back in January, when the ICO first uncovered this water bag proposal, it appeared to be a wild-eyed scheme with little chance of success. Now the State Water Rights Board is seriously considering this application. It’s time to take a stand for our river.

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