The Country's Most Expensive Water

The Most Expensive Water in the Country... Brought to You by Cal Am! 

By Melodie Chrislock 

This week Food & Water Watch announced their 2017 update of the Top Ten Most Expensive Water Providers in the Country. The Monterey Peninsula now ranks #1. Cal Am has given us the most expensive water in the United States! The annual cost to Peninsula consumers for 60,000 gallons is $1202.

With Cal Am’s recent changes in rate structure and additional charges of $40 million dollars for water we didn’t use due to our conservation efforts, PWN suspected that we might have the most expensive water in the country. Now it’s been confirmed. 

Water bills for many Cal Am customers have recently doubled or tripled and to make matters worse, the cost for new water projects like Cal Am’s proposed desal plant, the Pure Water Monterey (recycled water) project, or the pipeline currently under construction, are NOT yet included on our water bills. Plus Cal Am is asking the CPUC for another 22.7% rate increase over the next three years. There’s no end in sight! We can do better than this with publicly owned water.

To put the cost of our water in perspective, in 2015 Food & Water Watch did a study of 500 public and private water systems across the county, ranking them by the annual cost of water to the consumer. In the original study, the Monterey Peninsula was ranked #9 in the top ten with an annual cost to the consumer of $716 for 60,000 gallons. Since then the average Cal Am customer on the Peninsula had seen a 68% increase in their water cost and that percentage is much higher if you typically use water in tiers 3, 4 or 5. 

In general, publicly owned systems have the lowest water cost to the consumer and private systems have the highest. About 85% of the country’s water systems are publicly owned. It worth noting that American Water, Cal Am’s parent company, is responsible for 6 of the top ten most expensive systems in the country. 

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