River in Ruin: The Story of the Carmel River

By Ray A. March | Go to book overview

8 THE ERA OF DISRESPECT
An Environmental Awakening

The golf courses’ reliance on water from the Carmel River only exacerbated what would be an ongoing problem of meeting the water requirements of a continually escalating population. Eventually it became apparent to Cal-Am that the building of the Los Padres Dam in 1949 was not a permanent solution to solving the increasing water demands of the Monterey Peninsula. In the thinking of the time, the obvious solution to providing water—not only to the burgeoning golf courses but also to a residential and transient demand—was to build still another dam on the river. And in 1970, that’s what the California-American Water Company (Cal-Am) set out to do.

In 1959 the state legislature adopted the California Water Plan devised by the California Department of Water Resources. This plan projected a series of dams, reservoirs, aqueducts, canals, and pipelines stretching the length of the state to meet growing demands for more water and flood control. In 1960 voters statewide approved a $1.75-billion bond issue, giving the California Department of Water Resources a mandate to build a water-producing infrastructure throughout the state. Passage of the bonds signaled to water purveyors, both private and public, that there would be no objection from the public sector when the time came to fulfill the California Water Plan’s objectives. It was the public’s mood at the time. Throughout the 1960s and ’70s, dams, canals, terminal reservoirs, and pumping plants were either under construction or completed. In 1968 the California Aqueduct was inching its way down the San Joaquin Valley heading for Southern California.

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