September 9, 1990

Board of Directors

Contra Costa Water District

P.O. Box 4121

1331 Concord Avenue

Concord, California 94524

Re: Proposed Los Vaqueros Reservoir: Hearing 7:30 p.m., 9/19/90, 1331 Concord Ave., Concord


When I originally asked for a copy of your draft EIR, your staff did not tell me that the comment period would close before I received it, so I didn't have a chance to comment on it. Thus, I am very glad that you are accepting further comments.

The bottom line is that the reservoir, road, and related work should not be done. The reasons are very simple and obvious. If we were living a sustainable lifestyle (one that was not steadily and ineluctably destroying the basis for life on the Earth), such things would not be necessary. If we were using the proper amount of water (the minimum necessary for our needs), and not wasting it on golf courses, car washing, etc., we would not need to hoard water in reservoirs. My family uses 60 gallons of water per day per person, and a large proportion of that is not necessary, but is caused by the poor design of our toilet and shower. How much do you use? The point is that the cheapest and most environmentally sensible solution is not construction of massive new reservoirs and highways, but conservation.

P.G. & E. had a similar outlook several years about building new power plants, until a couple of guys proved to them that conservation would provide the same amount of power, at a much lower cost.

This is not to mention the destruction of the natural environment that the reservoir and road would wreak, and the even greater destruction caused by the massive development the reservoir and road would enable. Roads (see the excellent presentation from Earth First! on the effects of roads on wildlife, enclosed) are extremely harmful to both wildlife and humans. The tiger salamander and probably the kit fox and other threatened and endangered species are regularly slaughtered on highways in our region. And, of course, so are we! The only way we can preserve an environment that is safe for humans and other life is to bring to an immediate halt all human expansion into natural areas. That means no more roads, dams, and reservoirs. The only place most people should live is in existing cities, where there is plenty of room for more housing, and where the convenience of nearness allows us to consume much fewer resources. A recent study by the Natural Resources Defense Council (available from John Holtzclaw of the Siera Club) showed that residents of northeastern San Francisco use vastly fewer resources than residents of a suburb such as Danville/San Ramon, and have 200 times as many restaurants and markets within walking distance. Suburban living offers no advantages, especially since our suburbs rapidly turn into Los Angeles-like urban sprawl.

The name of the proposed reservoir (Spanish for "the cowboys") brings up another bad association: cattle are ruining the remaining open spaces in our area. They require flammable imported grasses that put us all in danger from fire, as well as destroying the pre-existing native plants and habitat areas. The native grasses they replaced, I understand, are practically inflammable. Cattle are a very inefficient way of feeding us. Let's return our precious open spaces to their natural state before it's too late. Let's restore some of the wildlife and plant species that we have already driven from this area, if not into extinction. Otherwise, we deserve to follow them.


Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.