at the Sea Ranch Forum, March 16, 2002
Questions submitted to Ric Davidge, and his answers
Ric Davidge and Ed Anton were invited speakers at the Sea Ranch Forum on Saturday, March 16, 2002.
Mr. Davidge is president of Alaska Water Exports, the company which has applied to the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to extract bulk fresh water from the Gualala and Albion Rivers. Mr. Anton is Chief of the Division of Water Rights of the SWRCB.
The audience had many more questions than the speakers were able to address during the Forum. Mr. Davidge agreed to answer all of the questions submitted. He sent his reply to the Forum committee on May 24th.
These are questions based on what was known at the time of the Forum – primarily from Applications 31194 and 31195, and media reports. Subsequently, Mr. Davidge has informed us that there will be changes in the infrastructure design and, for example, the loading facilities at Gualala will be much further offshore than is shown on the map included in Application 31194. We would appreciate having the questions that relate to infrastructure answered in the context of the new designs.
Questions Directed to Mr. Anton
- The Review Process
- What is the next step in the process?
- What criteria will you use, and what issues will be considered, in deciding whether to approve either of the applications.
- How do you establish a baseline above which water is deemed to be excess?
- How will you determine the minimum flows required in the rivers in order for water to be harvested?
- How does the SWRCB validate applicants’ claims of water availability?
- How much recreational use is deemed a significant factor in the permit process?
- Do your evaluation criteria include esthetic values?
- “What authority in the review process is held by other agencies, such as the Coastal Conservancy?”
- Can the water be taken without a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers?
- Has the SWRCB involved Fish and Game in evaluating this project?
- Does the SWRCB closely monitor conservation in an area that expresses a need for water before it decides to access water from outside the area?
- What additional resources will be needed to regulate the added volume of coastal shipping this project will add during dangerous winter months?
- Is there any precedent for rights being given to an outside entrepreneur whose ultimate motive is only personal profit?
- Under what conditions can a holder of California water rights sell them to another U.S. company? to a Canadian or Mexican company subject to NAFTA rules? to any other foreign company?
- Are water rights granted in perpetuity?
- Would the future needs of existing water rights holders in the area have precedence over this project’s rights?
- Will Alaska Water Exports have to pay royalties or other fees for the water it takes from the river?
- How does the State protect the interests of those who do not own water rights, but who benefit by servicing those who do, when those who do own water rights sell them and no longer need services ?
- Why can’t San Diego’s growth be governed by its available supplies of water as Gualala’s growth is?
- Do urban and suburban lawns and gardens in Southern California take priority over endangered fish and whale migration sites in Mendocino County?
- Why should residents of coastal Mendocino County be expected to compensate for poor planning decisions by San Diego and Southern California?
- Can the SWRCB ask Davidge to provide or fund some other project the state deems desirable in order to ensure that they will approve his main project?
Enforcement if Water Rights are Granted
- Who will determine when the pumps may be turned on and when they must be turned off?
- Under what conditions could water rights granted Alaska Water Exports gain precedence over the rights of the Gualala and Sea Ranch water companies?
The Division of Water Rights
- Do you or any other member of the State government, or any consultant or advisor to State Government, have any financial connection with this or any other project associated with Mr. Davidge?
- Is it legal for the members of the SWRCB to invest in the project once they approve it?