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Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Water for sale

In state’s arid south, thirst for North Coast water will grow

January 10, 2003

Press Democrat Editorial

The latest proposal to export what is described as surplus water may prove benign. There is no likelihood that verdant Humboldt County is at risk of a water shortage, and more arid locales need the water.

Still, North Coast counties should remain vigilant.

Here’s what we know about water in California today: (1) Populous Southern California can’t begin to explain where it will find water to serve a growing population. (2) New laws promote the buying and selling of water by private companies which know there are fortunes to be made with the right deal. If you need a metaphor, think deregulated electricity.

Worst-case scenario: Eager to please Southern California voters and politically connected companies, the governor and Legislature disregard the environmental and economic interests of the North Coast.

Against this backdrop, entrepreneur Ric Davidge is back, this time with a plan to buy surplus water from the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District and ship the water south in ocean-going poly-fiber bags.

Thirty years ago, only 11th-hour state opposition blocked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ plan to dam the Eel River in Mendocino County, inundate the town of Covelo and ship the water to Southern California. In the intervening years, not much has changed, except Southern California has more thirsty people.

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