By Eric Snyder, June 10, 2019
“In re-reading a speech given by Luna Leopold, professor at University of California, Berkeley, entitled ‘Ethos, Equity and the Water Resource,’ he makes the point that without a guiding principle, or ethos, for wise management, protection and preservation, the ‘unwritten assumption of fairness, equity, and the common good [will give] way to domination by a narrow class and special interests.’ Leopold was referencing the failed expansion of Athens into Syracuse in the year 431 B.C.
I think there are lessons to be learned here in our own backyard. A specific example is a recent proposal, called the Grand River Waterway Project, to dredge a 50-foot-wide, 7-foot-deep, 22.5-mile-long corridor down the middle of the Lower Grand River that would extend from Bass River State Recreation Area near Eastmanville, past our Allendale campus where the GVSU rowing team practices, to the Fulton Street Bridge in Grand Rapids. There are some proposed economic benefits to this activity, including the potential for larger power boats to motor up and down the river. But, like Leopold cautions, this activity would benefit relatively few, while the negative consequences would be felt by many.”