A meticulous history of an endangered waterway.
Journalist March (Two Bites of the Cherry and Other Golf Stories, 2000, etc.) closely examines the primary water source for California’s Monterey Peninsula, the Carmel River. He chronicles events on this narrow water source from its discovery by the Spanish in 1603 to the major environmental problems it faces today. As exploration and development advanced on the peninsula, the need for water increased as homeowners, industries such as the sardine-canning business and golf courses drew their water from the small Carmel. One dam was built and then another, which altered the course of the river, resulting in bank erosion and flooding during the winter rains. Deep-water wells were drilled, and major pipelines were laid to quench the ever-increasing thirst of the residents in Monterey, Carmel and neighboring towns. With the natural flow of the river altered by humans, sediment filled in behind the dams and low water impeded the spawning of the river’s large steelhead fish population. Finally, pollution, dredging, droughts, forest fires and the near extinction of the steelhead forced land developers, politicians and environmentalists to reconsider the ways the river had been used and abused. Numerous analyses of the waterway have resulted in stricter legislation regarding watershed protection and have placed the steelhead on the endangered species list.
Saturated with facts, March’s account of this threatened river forces readers to reconsider water as a commodity that requires protection.