Water bags a good lesson for Humboldt
Thursday, March 6, 2003
There isn’t much else that’ll stir the pot so thoroughly these days as a bid to move the rain from here to somewhere else. We saw that clearly when Alaska-based Aqueous Corp. was sent packing after pitching a plan to ship Mad River water to points south in enormous sea-going bags. It was an interesting, if disturbing, idea that deserved some attention — even for novelty’s sake.
The bid for one of our most precious resources brought on a rather remarkable display of public involvement. The Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District, while much criticized for even thinking about the offer, nonetheless handled the situation well. They listened to public comment, weathered scathing remarks, and then told Aqueous Corp. not to expect a sale anytime in the near future. The public voiced its concerns through the press and at public meetings, raising key issues like the possibility of losing the Mad River’s water to the black hole of international trade law.
The concept will be studied so that the next time some entrepreneur shows up with water on the mind, we know exactly the risks involved. If we ever sign such a contract, we will know just what to expect.
The water-bagging issue was not dragged out forever, and we think it was dealt with appropriately. It takes more than government to protect the things we deem valuable; it takes a caring public. People of all political affiliations weighed in on the issue, balancing possible economic growth that might arise from such a deal against the specter of having to limit growth in the future after losing control of our water.
To everyone who put in their two cents, we offer a resounding bravo.
We have lost much of our water, and with it the health of many of our rivers, to cities and farms in thirsty places that nonetheless see fit to water lawns, wash cars and build water parks. If there is one thing we all need to do to preserve our integrity as a community, it is this: Make it harder to squeeze Humboldt County for water than it is to wrestle a honeycomb from a starving bear.
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