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At least for now, water bag idea bagged

Eureka Times-Standard

At least for now, water bag idea bagged

By John Driscoll The Times-Standard

Saturday, March 15, 2003 –

EUREKA — The Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District Board took a recommendation to put a proposal to ship water from the Mad River on the back burner.

The unanimous vote followed the recommendation of the district’s manager, Carol Rische, who echoed the advice of a task force formed to investigate the issue.

The district was looking at a pitch from the Alaska-based Aqueous Corp. to buy 15,000 to 20,000 acre feet of industrial-quality water each year, which would be shipped to cities to the south in massive ocean-going bags. While the idea drew some interest in the community, it also drew fire from people who feared the district would buy into the idea without a full investigation.

On Thursday, the board voted to tell Aqueous that it would have to wait an indefinite period of time while the district researches the issue.

“(The task force) put forth key questions and the strategy and made a good, sound recommendation,” Rische said Friday.

Rische said among the most critical issues that need to be addressed are water law and strategies to protect the district’s water rights. Environmental, economic and other concerns also need to be addressed, as do the implications of such a deal under international trade law, she said.

The water in question is “excess” water available since the old Simpson Paper Co. pulp mill shut down, and the Samoa Pacific Cellulose pulp mill has become more water efficient. A pipeline out to the Samoa Peninsula already exists to pump the water — which is not fit for drinking without treatment.

Aqueous hoped to sell water to thirsty cities to the south. The company, under a different name, recently tried and failed to bag water from the Albion and Gualala rivers in Mendocino County.

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