Desalination Has a Big Problem
Desalination has a big problem in California — it’s called democratic participation. Inspiring the rest of us, Marin County residents are demonstrating their political savvy and power in two critical ways.
The first way is their work to get Measure T (guaranteeing a vote of the public before the Marin Municipal Water District spends $30 million more on pushing a desalination plant in San Rafael) on the November ballot. Here’s how it happened.
Marin County voters have always had the right to vote on water plans. In recent times, however, egged on by greedy developers and builders that need water to grow Marin development, the Marin Water Board has been trying to sneak one over on the voters and get a desalination plant up and running there. The plan was for this plant to take the dirty water of the San Francisco Bay, pump lots of energy and resources into it and then take the resulting water and turn it into drinking water for Marin County.
After 20 years of pushing for desalination in Marin, with obvious public opposition, it became clear in August that the Board had every intention of moving forward on a plant that the voters were not going to get to vote on. Residents of Marin got into high gear. With over 18,000 signatures gathered they got Measure T placed on the November ballot. That’s impressive activist win number one.
Following their ballot win, the residents — in their second display of political power and savvy — got even more involved and stepped up to challenge the incumbents on the Water Board by becoming candidates themselves.
The water board comprises 5 members, one from each water district. In November, four of the board positions are up for election. All four of those positions have candidates who have grown up in a wave of Marin County activism to prevent desalination and to protect the public’s right to vote on issues involving their water.
Marin County is yet another example of how water, and the community’s work to protect it, is growing political involvement and participation in the democratic process. Yes, desalination which is already problematic because it’s more expensive for taxpayers, benefits big corporations while hogging energy and undercuts conservations programs, has a bigger problem and it’s you, the water activist.
-Adam Scow, California Campaign Director