Frequently Asked Questions

What is Public Water Now?

Public Water Now (PWN) is a local non-profit dedicated to securing affordable, sustainable, community owned water for the Monterey Peninsula.

Why terminate California American Water (Cal Am) as our water supplier?

The Monterey Peninsula has the most expensive water in the country according to Food and Water Watch. Costs for ratepayers have increased 68% in the last two years with more increases scheduled.

After widely promoting conservation, Cal Am charged us $40 million for water we didn’t use to make up for their lost profits. Another charge of $13 million was approved in October 2017.

Cal Am has not been a responsible steward of our water supply. Cal Am was ordered to stop over drafting the Carmel River in 1995. In the 22 years since that Cease and Desist Order (CDO) was issued, Cal Am has implemented no new water supply projects. But with the CPUC’s approval it has charged ratepayers $34 million for three failed water projects.

Why public ownership?

PWN advocates that Cal Am be replaced with a community owned system under the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District (MPWMD). This would achieve community control, accessibility and transparency. The MPWMD board is elected by and answerable to the voters.

Currently 87% of the water systems in the country are publicly owned for good reason. Public ownership generally provides the best service for the lowest cost to customers. Private ownership is about providing the highest return to shareholders. Cal Am has a vested interest in protecting and increasing shareholder profits.

What will this NEW Ballot Measure accomplish?

If passed by the voters, it will legally demand that the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District (MPWMD) initiate the process of purchasing Cal Am.

What if Cal Am refuses to sell?

The Monterey Peninsula Water Management District (MPWMD) has the authority to buy Cal Am under eminent domain if it’s determined to be in the public interest.

Cal Am would be forced into court to determine a purchase price if they refuse to sell.

Can we afford to buy Cal Am?

The price is subject to negotiation or court determination, but prior appraisals and current estimates suggest a price under $225 million. If acquired through eminent domain, the court will determine the price, not Cal Am.

The Monterey Peninsula Water Management District has the authority to issue public bonds to cover all acquisition costs. The $19 million in corporate profit and taxes that now go to Cal Am annually would be used to finance those bonds without increasing our water rates. Savings will be greater as the bonds are paid off.

How would MPWMD take ownership?

How would MPWMD take ownership? State law requires a feasibility analysis before a buyout. If the analysis shows feasibility (cost savings and public benefit), within nine months MPWMD’s general manager is required to prepare a plan to acquire all the water assets of Cal Am, through a willing buyer-willing seller negotiation or eminent domain court proceedings if necessary.

How would MPWMD take over management?

Current Cal Am operational employees would be retained. A new professional management team would be hired. The CPUC would assure Cal Am’s transfer of responsibility to be as seamless as possible.