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FoGR – Letter to the Mayor of San Diego et al

To the Mayor of San Diego et al, April 2002


Mr. Dick Murphy
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101

Dear Mr. Murphy,

Two applications have been filed (31194 and 31195) with the State Water Resources Control Board to take 20,000 and 10,000 acre feet annually from the Gualala and Albion Rivers respectively, and tow this water in huge plastic bags to San Diego. The applicant is Alaska Water Exports, a division of Arctic Ice and Water Exports and partner in World Water SA, a Luxembourg-registered corporation which is backed financially by Norwegian, Japanese and Saudi companies. The CEO of both AWE and World Water SA is Ric Davidge.

Opposition to this proposal is nearly unanimous in the Gualala and Albion River watersheds, led by groups such as Friends of the Gualala River, the Redwood Coast chapter of the Sierra Club and local watershed associations. Both the Sonoma County and the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors have sent opposing resolutions to the SWRCB’s Division of Water Rights. The text of these resolutions is included [Sonoma, Mendocino].

The reasons for local opposition are varied. Of major concern is the impact on the already threatened runs of coho salmon and steelhead due to the trenching for a water pipeline. The migration of gray whales and their access to favorite feeding grounds would be disturbed by the continuous barge traffic. It is estimated that up to 6 trips per day might be necessary during the peak of the rainy season.

Our local, coastal economy is largely dependent on tourism. People come for the tranquility and natural beauty – they do not want to be disturbed by an industrial operation with round-the-clock barge traffic, night-time lights and the sound of powerful pumps and engines, not to mention the visual blight of off-shore plastic bags the size of three football fields.

There seems to be a nationwide and international trend to turn water into a commodity to be bought and sold on the open market, like electricity. We all managed to live through the inconveniences of blackouts last year, but we must not let this happen to water and allow control of this most vital resource to get into private hands. While many people regard water as a “common good” for the beneficial use of everyone, this beneficial use must also include fragile riparian and estuarine ecosystems. It must not include the profit-making of a private, multinational corporation.

Speaking for many people on the North Coast, Friends of the Gualala River urges you to reject the schemes of private water profiteers, both for the benefits of our local ecosystems and for the cost benefits of your municipal water users.


Vivian Green Ph.D., president

[This letter was also sent to the San Diego Board of Supervisors, the Director of the San Diego Water Department, and the Director of the Metropolitan Water District.]