Let the Rivers Run
In Acadia National Park, which is about to turn 100, the streams are abnormally dry, the waterfalls unseasonably quiet. Still, as the map shows,when it comes to water, there are twoAmericas, roughly divided by the 100th Meridian, one wet, the other dry.
Lately, there has been talk on the political hustings that the California drought is caused not by a dearth of water but by environmentalists who put the needs of fish above those of people. Carly Fiorina raised the matter a year ago when she blamed the drought on the policies of “overzealous liberal environmentalists [that] allow much of California’s rainfall to wash out to sea.”
Donald Trump joined in recently, telling California farmers, “You have a water problem that is so insane. It is so ridiculous, where they’re taking the water and shoving it out to sea. . . . trying to protect a certain kind of three-inch fish.”
Once again, science gets twisted to sound bite. Rivers are supposed to flow to the sea. As we have learned in Maine with the dam removal projects on the Penobscot and Kennebec, rivers soon restore themselves and provide an array of benefits for fish and also for humans.
A river is an ecosystem on which all life, including ours, depends. It provides fresh water and food, transportation and power, recreation and beauty. It can even clean itself of pollutants if we don’t overload it with our waste. We need to stop treating it like a pipe.