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Preserving Clean Water by Preserving Open Space

Jane’s letter to the PD:

Dear Editors,

I loved the Yes on F mailer, target of Chris Coursey’s politically-based critique. In the past, preserving clean water resources may have been seen as just a side benefit of preserving undeveloped lands for parks, resource conservation, and agricultural land preservation–but I challenge Mr. Coursey to name a more important resource than clean water. That mailer displays the success of a many-year citizen-based campaign to educate the County on the water-protective benefits of open space preservation.

Mike Dombeck, a former U.S. Forest Service Chief, once said: “I’m worried that we may, as a society, lose our appreciation of what the land does for us; why open space is important Š The fact that a single tree sequesters about 13 pounds of carbon each year. That a single tree produces enough oxygen for a family of four to breathe. The water filtration functions of the vegetation on the landscape. It’s important for people to appreciate and connect to the land.”

New York City has known this for generations. Because New York long ago put its money into preserving the Catskills lands that yield its water supply, New York City residents pay the least of any eastern U.S. city and have the purest water. The strategy is much cheaper than building and maintaining industrial centers for treating drinking water, and all citizens benefit from it. Sonoma County citizens should start demanding that their water suppliers adopt similarly conserving policies.

Instead of criticizing the Open Space District’s focus on water, let’s celebrate its purchases that protect over 10,000 acres of major ground water basins or natural recharge areas, and over 56,000 acres that drain to those areas, plus the headwaters of Santa Rosa Creek, Paulin Creek a large part of Dry Creek, and more. Yes on F!

Jane Nielson
President, Sebastopol Water Information Group