Winter Water Update 2024
We're Off to a Great Start!

MPWMD Eminent Domain Lawsuit

It took ten years and the dedicated work of so many, but our efforts have brought us to this critical point. The fight for public ownership of our water system has finally moved into the courts.

On December 15, 2023, MPWMD filed its eminent domain case against Cal Am in Monterey Superior Court. The case should be heard by summer 2025. This first phase is the bench trial in which a judge decides if the buyout is a public necessity and if MPWMD has the right to buy Cal Am. The second phase would be a jury trial to determine a price for Cal Am’s local system.

MPWMD has spent the past year building a strong and detailed case to support the public necessity of the buyout. You can read their findings here.

LAFCO Decision Overturned

Remember LAFCO’s decision which refused to activate MPWMD’s latent powers in an attempt to block the buyout? LAFCO’s staff and their expert consultant both recommended approval, but five of the seven LAFCO commissioners: Chris Lopez, Kimbley Craig, Matt Gourley, Mary Ann Leffel and Pete Poitras voted against MPWMD anyway. They blatantly ignored the Measure J mandate and the will of 24,000 voters. It was a circus of bias and brazen disregard for the public interest.PUC PH

MPWMD sued LAFCO over its decision in September. The court has now ruled in favor of MPWMD. Judge Wills ruled LAFCO’s decision against MPWMD be vacated based on a lack of legal grounds for its decision. In overturning LAFCO’s decision, he left it up to MPWMD to decide whether to go back to LAFCO. Judge Wills also ruled that LAFCO must pay all legal expenses for both sides which may run upwards of $500,000. This is taxpayer money wasted by LAFCO for no good reason.

CPUC Phase 2 - Water Supply and Demand

Phase 2 is underway at the CPUC. They are looking at water supply and demand on the Monterey Peninsula. Hearings will happen in March and a decision should come by summer. This proceeding should make it obvious that we don’t need desal. But Cal Am is desperate to convince the CPUC we do.

Historic demand tells the tale. In 1997 the Peninsula used 16,872 acre-feet of water. By 2004 demand was down to 15,012 acre-feet. In 2022 we used 9,559 acre-feet. Our water use per person is now one of the lowest in the state.

The Pure Water Monterey Expansion is on track to produce water by the end of 2025. It will give us an additional 2,250 acre-feet of water for growth and should lift the CDO. MPWMD has shown that this is enough water for 30 years of growth. The source water for the Expansion is winter wastewater flows which growers cannot use or store.

Rain and River Flows

MPWMD’s Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) project began capturing and injecting excess Carmel River water over 20 years ago. This year ASR began on January 21. In the first two days about 25 acre-feet were collected. When winter rains swell the River and flows reach 120 cubic feet per second, surplus water can be captured and stored in the Seaside Basin. This water is in addition to our legal take of 3,376 acre-feet. These high winter river flows would otherwise be lost to the ocean.

Melodie Chrislock
Managing Director, Public Water Now

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