CCN’s Dan Blackburn featured in National Geographic documentary
March 18, 2017
By KAREN VELIE
A National Geographic documentary premiering this week probes the exploits of California’s most notorious water barons — with a focus on north San Luis Obispo County and Stewart and Linda Resnick. The documentary spotlights the reporting of CalCoastNews’ Dan Blackburn.
“Water & Power: A California Heist,” peels back layers of California’s covert history of manipulative water contracts which have led to today’s illicit water transfers.
The documentary, from Primetime Emmy Award-winning Marina Zenovich (“Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired”) delves into the fight over California’s water rights, including epic battles over control of basins in Kern and San Luis Obispo counties.
For decades, California water barons have squeezed small farmers by limiting water available to them and forcing sales of their land. After the land was bought up, the spigots were turned back on enriching the wealthy investors.
In the documentary, Zenovich follows a handful of activists and journalists, including CalCoastNews senior correspondent Daniel Blackburn.
For years, San Luis Obispo County supervisors Bruce Gibson, Adam Hill, and Frank Mecham supported big-money interests seeking to form a Paso Robles water basin district.
In 2011, CalCoastNews first reported on the battle over the Paso Robles Water Basin.
In 2014, Blackburn published a three-part series on CalCoastNews, “Eyes on Your Water,” discussing “Is water banking in SLO County’s future?,” “Paso water group wields major-league muscle,” and “A crafted perception of water district cooperation.”
Blackburn worked at one time for one of the world’s largest water wholesalers, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. He also was executive director of the Association of State Water Project Agencies (ASWPA).
In a crushing 2016 electoral loss to large North County agribusiness interests, 77.83 percent of landowners owning land over the Paso Robles basin voted against the formation of a proposed Paso Robles water district.
Water & Power: A California Heist
When: Multiple showings including March 18 at 10:30 p.m.
Where: National Geographic channel.