Cal-Am gives up on dam !!!!!!

    It does appear that the threat of a new dam on the Carmel River has passed. We are just drinking in the victory as we decide the future of this web site. Please enjoy the beautiful images and be happy that the community will be protected and these places are saved...for now.  Please send us an e-mail and let us know what you think.                                                                                                                                                                 


We are all affected by what happens on the Carmel River

An Educational Art Project concerning the Proposed Dam in the upper Carmel Valley area known as Cachagua.

The organizers of this project do not belong to any one political group. We are local artists concerned with the destructive damage a dam would cause. Many of us photograph or paint the landscape environment and are concerned with protecting and preserving the exceptional beauty of our Monterey Peninsula, our Native American cultural heritage sites, the lives of children and families threatened by dangerous circumstances, and of our planet's health and it's ability to sustain life

IMAGE: Gay and Anna by Peter Hughes
"Gay and Anna," People of Cachagua 1998, Peter Hughes

"We will mourn our children's lost years robbed from them by constant construction noise, lights, traffic, fear, blasting, smoke, dust, medical problems, the rock crusher, strangers in the park..."

- Charity Crane, Vice President Citizens for Alternative Water Solutions


We have invited 50 photographers to visually respond to the proposed destruction of environment, community, and cultural loss that would be caused by a new dam. The Project "Visual Voices: Threat of a Dam" includes this web site, a traveling portfolio as part of an educational community campaign, a video, a children's art exhibit, a portable painted mural, performance art and a large exhibition of photographs seeking healing solutions rather than destructive ones.

"A human being...experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest...our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole nature in its beauty."

- Albert Einstein


The direct purpose of the project will be to provide a forum for photographers and other artists to visually and creatively respond to the proposed destruction that would be caused by a new dam.

A secondary purpose will be to provide the exhibits, video and portfolio to community groups that wish to educate the public about the destructive impact of the dam and the alternatives. There are many alternatives to a dam, in fact, a 1998 state law required a thorough investigation of these alternatives before the Public Utilities Commission can rule on the dam. For information about Plan B check the official Plan B web site.

Photographers will use images to reflect on the following areas of impact:

(1) The voters rejected this dam in 1995 because it will bring unwanted development and growth. A new dam is being heavily promoted by developers. An estimated 180 trucks a day, plus hundreds of commuting workers, will create even more traffic problems and damage to Highway One, Carmel Valley, and other Monterey Peninsula roads. The Carmel River was listed as one of the ten most endangered rivers in the US in 1999 because of "growth and sprawl" in Monterey County.

- American Rivers, National Report, April 1999

(2) A new dam is too expensive. The $125 million quoted in the Environmental Impact Report does not cover all the finance charges, expenses of road repairs and litigation. The Sierra Club, Ventana Chapter estimates the real cost of the dam is closer to $350 million.

The expenses of the dam will be shouldered by us, the rate payers - directly, because Cal-Am is a for profit corporation, who parent company (recently acquired by an foreign conglomerate ) is headquartered in New Jersey, with stockholders to satisfy rather in the public's behalf as a public utility. In 2000 its CEO said " I am a businessman who happens to be the chief executive officer of American Water Works (Cal-Am's parent company). My responsibility is to create value for shareholders of the company".

(3) Most Dams become obsolete in a few decades. Dams are being dismantled all over the USA because they are expensive and filled with built up silt. (see Smithsonian (Nov. 1998 edition) and Whole Earth (Summer 98) - Magazines) or click here for the latest in restoring dammed rivers. The San Clemente Dam which is a few miles down stream of the proposed new dam is over 90% filled with sediment. Studies are underway to come up with a way to remove it but it won't be cheap; costs may run $30-50M for this relatively small dam. Click here for a list of dams removed or slated for removal in the past few years. Check the American River's page on general dam facts.

(4) A new dam will destroy 130 acres of natural habitat, including 24 acres of designated wilderness, 27 cultural archeological sites, many of them sacred to the Esselen Indians and all of cultural importance to California's indigenous heritage. It will devastate the lives of children and families living near the constant blasting and trucking. Area vineyards will be negatively affected. It will all but spell the extinction of the steelhead. Click here for information on new rules in place to protect them

(5) The concrete wall of the dam will be 282 feet high and approximately a quarter of a mile long (400 feet wider than Hoover Dam). One of the most beautiful federally protected areas in the Ventana Wilderness will be taken out of wilderness designation and drowned with water (Danish Creek.) The dam is proposed to be built in an active earthquake area. The EIR admits that flooding and droughts would still be problems.

We are currently looking for funding to help with expenses for the exhibition, video and children's art project. We would like to thank Citizens for Alternative Water Solutions and the Ventana Chapter of the Sierra Club for their generous support of this web site,  the photographers, concerned children of Cachagua and Monterey County, and many other artists and friends in the community.

Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.

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Water Over the Dam