Letter to The Herald Bulletin

CED in poor position to properly assess reservoir feasibility

The Herald Bulletin’s October 12th report (Phase II study will answer many reservoir questions) on the planned dam and reservoir provided a needed update on the status of the Corporation for Economic Development’s planned Phase II feasibility study.

Does it make sense for the proposing entity (CED) to also assess the feasibility of the plan? No. The CED has an obvious conflict of interest and cannot be expected to render an impartial evaluation. Similarly, its main consultant, DLZ, Inc., hopes to land a design/build contract (if the proposal survives regulatory review and funding challenges). Is it plausible that the company will perform a thorough and complete feasibility analysis and impact assessment? No.

Critical observers are coming to understand that the driving impetus for the existing “water-industrial complex” (the collection of political and financial interests including elected officials, land developers, and engineering companies) is a single goal: unlimited water supply. Unfortunately, most seem to be uninterested in conservation or other demand-side management strategies and alternatives to more and more supply.

Water analyst Cynthia Barnett (Blue Revolution— Unmaking America’s Water Crisis, 2009) believes we have a way to go before a water ethic is embraced.

“In 2010, I went on a search of a water ethic for America… Although there were some hopeful signs, my search led me to another, harsher truth about a water ethic: Americans will embrace it only if it’s also supported by the people who make decisions about our water, from private companies to utility managers to governors. The fundamental belief in water as a national treasure to be preserved has to catch on at every level of society, including what I’ll call America’s water-industrial complex.”

Hopefully, the reservoir plan will serve as a means of helping policy-makers and utilities to focus on our need for a water ethic to ensure sustainable supply, rather than just reflexively seeking expensive new sources of supply

Clarke Kahlo

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