The Nevada City Hall Council Chamber was full to overflowing for last night’s “Water: A Panel Discussion,” sponsored by the A.P.P.L.E Center for Sustainable Living. Let there be no doubt about the passionate interest in water issues among the citizens of Nevada County, nor about the catalytic role that the Sustainability Center is playing in redirecting that interest toward action.
Mali Dyck, Executive Director of the Sustainability Center, introduced the proceedings.
Participating panelists include: Stephen Baker, hydrogeologist and groundwater expert; Carrie Monohan, hydrologist and science director with The Sierra Fund; Jason Rainey, executive director with The South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL); Steve Rothert, director of the California regional office for American Rivers; and Nick Wilcox, NID, Division V board member and former Chief of the Bay-Delta unit with the State Water Resources Control Board. The panel will be moderated by Elizabeth Soderstrom, Senior Director of Conservation for American Rivers.
Here are a few highlights taken from my sparse notes:
Each of the panelists had an impossible ten minutes for general remarks. And each, in one way or another, mentioned the importance of conservation.
After all panelists spoke, they answered wide-ranging questions from the audience, from “How does local water use affect the snowpack?” to “If I’m on a well, does it matter how much water I put back into my own ground?”
Jason Rainey spoke of “enshrining the rights of other beings,” and focused especially on the fate of salmon in local rivers as an indicator of the health of the watersheds as a whole.
Carrie Monahan spoke of her work on mining’s toxic legacy in the form of widespread mercury contamination, resulting from the twenty-six million pounds of mercury used in all the years of gold mining. She said there are 47,000 abandoned mines in California.
Steve Rothert showed slides of the Klammath River and the Bay Delta, among other water systems. It was inspiring to hear his account of the progress being made toward removing dams from the Klammath.
Nick Wilcox of NID mentioned that the snowpack, upon which California’s entire water system depends, is shrinking and retreating to higher elevations, due presumably to global climate change.
Nick also said that he opposes the $11.4 billion water bond, among other reasons because it will create a $600 million yearly interest indebtedness on the general fund.
“In California,” Nick said, “water flows uphill toward money.”