Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Last Friday, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors held a special meeting, to decide whether or not to claim a place on the Governance Committee of the Monterey Peninsula Regional Water Authority. The Authority hopes to coordinate local government responses to a proposed desalination project advanced by the California‑American Water Company, a private corporation.
One important issue in Monterey County is whether any new desalination project should be “public,” or “private.” An existing county ordinance requires public ownership of any new desalination project. However, Cal-Am and the Public Utilities Commission take the position that this ordinance is unenforceable. Some Monterey County residents think that the Regional Water Authority is conceding the point. They want the County to act independently and to insist on public ownership.
Santa Cruz County listeners may be amazed that the public would entrust its water future to a multi‑national corporation that has profit as its main motive. In Santa Cruz County, all major water supply agencies are public agencies. In Felton, local citizens organized to “buy out” Cal-Am, which previously operated a private water system there.
Things are different in Monterey County, and Monterey County residents who care about the public versus private issue should let the Board of Supervisors know what they think.