No Water Bags for the Gualala

World Water SA president Ric Davidge has withdrawn his company’s application to haul water from the Gualala and Albion rivers in polyfiber bags for sale to San Diego. World Water SA is the first private company to have submitted a major water export scheme to state regulators, said Juliet Beck from the advocacy group Public Citizen.
“It’s a huge victory,” Beck said. “It’s a testament to the growing strength of the movement to protect water as a shared resource, not a source of private profit.”
On September 27, Governor Gray Davis signed AB 858, which requires anyone proposing to take water from a north coast river to fund a five-year study of the effects of that taking on endangered fish populations. In his December letter to regulators, Davidge cited the new law and the $2 million it would have cost to do  studies of the two rivers as a reason for his withdrawal.
Davidge’s proposal required the approval of the State Water Resources Control Board and the California Coastal Commission. But in December, the Commission voted to protest the proposal to the state water regulators.
Critics of water commercialization charged that Davidge’s proposal would have set a dangerous precedent in international trade laws by stripping local autonomy over water supplies and watershed protections. “Under NAFTA,” said Beck, “once you’ve allowed bulk water export to begin, it’s very difficult to turn it off.”
In an interview with Terrain, Davidge said he’s through with California rivers. “I’m not going to put in any applications for water rights in California.” But, in January, the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District told Terrain that Davidge has expressed interest in purchasing water from the municipality for a similar water-bag export deal. No details were available.

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