I was pleased, but not surprised to see Eric Hammer in attendance given his interest in governing through community engagement. I was seriously disappointed that Bruce McPherson was not there. Mr. McPherson has said that his state connections will be important as we realign resources to counties. But it’s not enough. As County Corrections has demonstrated, community education and input are critical.
Forward to Oct. 2 at a candidates’ forum in Felton; Hammer and McPherson presented their positions. They were followed by the SLV Water Board candidates. Mr. McPherson did not stay for their forum; Eric Hammer was there.
Mr. McPherson has not convinced me that the voice of the community will be a part of his governing approach. I’m voting for Eric Hammer for 5th District Supervisor on Nov. 6.
Water is region’s biggest issue
To the Editor:
For years, led by controlled-growth activists anchored in the water management district, our community has used a self-induced and self-prolonged water shortage to control growth at an excessively high and steeply rising cost to ratepayers. That practice has eroded our quality of life and now threatens our livelihoods. It must end. As noble a cause as controlled growth might be, we should not self-destruct in its pursuit.
That, however, is precisely what some local political groups may be doing as they scramble to avoid implementation of the cease-and-desist order requiring a drastic reduction of the water we take from the Carmel River. Specifically, the mayors’ regional water authority and the water management district, supported by the hospitality industry, are promoting a Cal Am desalination plant that will provide only enough water to meet the specific requirement of the order, and not one drop more. In other words, responding to their controlled-growth constituents, they are working to continue to limit our supply of water for the sole purpose of controlling growth.
As the consultants hired by these groups will no doubt show, a small, or boutique, desalination plant producing a limited supply of water will be less costly to build than a large one, but that is not the cost most important to ratepayers. The cost important to ratepayers is the unit cost of water, and that cost is lower for a larger plant than for a small desalination plant. Henry Ford used the same economic principle to produce cars that were so inexpensive that most people could afford them. In addition to lower-cost water, a large desalination plant will obviate the need for a tiered rate structure, while allowing us the normal use of water that most people enjoy elsewhere.
What is more, ownership by a private company like Cal Am adds a large premium to the unit cost of water. The reason: 6.5 percent interest rate on borrowed money the state allows the company to charge ratepayers (versus 3 percent for a public agency), annual 10 percent profit on shareholder equity (versus none for a public agency), 24 percent of revenue paid to corporate headquarters, and hefty federal, state, and local taxes (not charged to a public agency), as well as the great expense of interacting with a regulatory agency — all passed on to ratepayers in monthly bills.
People pay for water by the units they use. That is why limiting the size of a desalination plant to control growth, especially a desalination plant owned by a private company, has the unfortunate consequence of drastically increasing the cost of water to ratepayers.
Current office holders seem committed to follow this path. So what can we do now? We can vote in the November election to change course. WaterPlus recently hosted a candidates forum on water where nearly all the candidates in locally contested elections participated. A video recording of that forum, together with the questions asked of each candidate, has been posted on our website: www.waterplusmonterey.com.
Almost all the participating candidates favored public ownership of our desalination plant. A handful, however, showed promise of especially strong leadership in that direction, as well as a deep understanding of our water problem: Marc Del Piero (Monterey County Supervisor); Carmelita Garcia, Dan Miller, Mary Norton (Pacific Grove); Felix Bachofner, Ian Oglesby, Jason Campbell (Seaside); and Mike Dawson (Monterey). Visit the website, watch the video, make your choices, and vote for what you see as the best water future possible in our community.