Ray A. March is the author of River in Ruin, which discusses the history of the Carmel River since the arrival of Europeans to the Monterey Peninsula in the 1700s, focusing on its uses, users, and the recent impact of development. March was quoted on 90.3 KAZU Public Radio and below he comments on the recent approval to remove the San Clemente Dam.
The 106-foot-high dam, scheduled for demolition beginning this summer, will be the largest dam removal project ever undertaken in the state.
The decision to remove the dam came on a unanimous vote of the Monterey County Planning Commission and ended more than 15 years of yo-yo debates and delays that frequently left the public wondering where its future water was going to come from and for how long.
During a week-long speaking and book-signing tour of the Monterey Peninsula—as part of the promotional campaign last year for River in Ruin: The Story of the Carmel River—it was immediately apparent to me that for the most part the residents of the fabled region had no idea that the little Carmel River was their main source of domestic water.
But, they asked questions. They showed serious concern and more than once they hoped River in Ruin held all the answers.
“I’m afraid I don’t have the answers,” I told them. “I’m the messenger. You have to find the answers to your water problems by getting involved, by taking action. It’s up to you if you want to save your river.”
The ultimate fall of the San Clemente Dam will not only restore the Carmel River’s fish and ecological habitat, it will also restore the confidence of the people of the Monterey Peninsula that they can make a difference.
-Ray A. March