Cal Am is Holding Our Water Hostage

On December 1, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) finally approved the Pure Water Monterey Expansion. On December 6, Cal Am notified the CPUC that it will not sign the Water Purchase Agreement for Expansion and wants a rehearing of the case. Until Cal Am signs the agreement to buy the water from the Expansion, financing cannot be obtained, and construction cannot begin.

This water is urgently needed for new housing and drought protection. The Pure Water Monterey Expansion is enough water for 30 years of growth, even in drought.

Cal Am is telling the public that it’s a long-time supporter of the PWM Expansion, but nothing could be further from the truth. Cal Am and its allies have blocked and stalled the Expansion for almost three years. The PWM Expansion could have been delivering water to our community by now if not for Cal Am’s delay tactics.

Cal Am Wants Another $25 million to Sign

Cal Am wants $81 million in infrastructure costs to deliver the water from the PWM Expansion. The CPUC authorized about seventy-five percent of that, but Cal Am claims it’s not enough. Cal Am wants another $25 million tacked onto our bills. Cal Am’s greed is the problem. It doesn’t like the Pure Water Monterey Project because there’s no profit in it for Cal Am. Once the Expansion is built Cal Am’s $426 million desal plant won’t be needed.

Cal Am is holding the Peninsula’s water supply hostage for $25 million. Only the CPUC can compel Cal Am to sign this agreement, but will they?

Governor Newsom Forces Coastal Commission Approval of Cal Am’s Desal

After years of supporting the Pure Water Monterey Expansion as a feasible alternative to Cal Am’s desal and recognizing the insurmountable environmental justice issues for Marina, the Coastal Commission’s vote on November 17 was a complete reversal. It was clear that Governor Newsom was pressuring the Coastal Commission to approve this desal project. Newson is determined to force desal on California, no matter how bad the project or how much it costs.

The Commission ignored our public water agencies andexperts, along with the 375 members of the public who spoke opposing Cal Am’s desal six to one. The commissioners voted 8 to 2 to approve Cal Am’s desal, but they attached 20 special conditions that will take Cal Am years to meet. Until then, Cal Am has no permit and no desal. The first condition Cal Am must meet is CPUC Phase 2 approval to determine if Cal Am’s desal is still needed in addition to the PWM Expansion. PWN is a party to this proceeding and we will fight to stop this desal plant.

The Monterey Peninsula Water Management District (MPWMD) is suing the Coastal Commission over its decision to approve Cal Am’s desal. And they may be joined by others in this lawsuit.

Measure J and the Cal Am Buyout

Early next year MPWMD will make Cal Am a buyout offer. If Cal Am won’t sell, then the MPWMD board will vote on taking eminent domain action.

Earlier this year, LAFCO tried to block the buyout by refusing to activate MPWMD’s latent power to sell water retail. Cal Am’s five allies on the seven member LAFCO board could not show any honest reason to block the buyout. They completely ignored the benefit to the public as a whole, instead citing concerns for their own appointing agencies. MPWMD is suing LAFCO over its decision, but in the end they may not even need LAFCO approval to move forward with the buyout.

Can you imagine what our community will be like without Cal Am? Hold that vision for 2023!

Melodie Chrislock
Director, Public Water Now

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