Letter: Here's hoping Monterey doesn't fall for Cal Am propaganda
May 15, 2014 | 2199 views | 9 9 comments | 42 42 recommendations | email to a friend | print

You may have seen a Cal Am TV ad attempting to sway Monterey citizens to vote against taking over their water system.

In this ad, a Felton resident claims our water rates are up 60 percent — but fails to mention that this is over a 6-year period.

She also states that Felton’s bond payment has increased property taxes nearly $14,000 — but doesn't say that this is over a 30-year period at $466 annually.

In fact, when you combine current water rates with the annual bond payment, we are paying SLVWD less annually than we would be paying Cal Am now.

For water alone, an average SLVWD user pays $128 every other month for 20 units.

Assuming Cal Am rate increases of just 5.5 percent per year — and their proposed increases were much higher — that same user would be paying $218 every other month to Cal Am, which is part of the third-largest water company in the world.

On an annual basis, the average SLVWD user pays $466 for the 30-year bond, plus $770 for water, for a total of $1,236 per year.

That same user would be paying Cal Am $1,307 per year — with 5.5 percent or more annual increases — without owning the water system.

That's a savings to the Felton users of at least $71 a year — including the bond payment.

The savings will be even greater after the bond is paid off, with the water system a legacy to our children and grandchildren.

Finally, in Felton we now have local control.

We elect SLVWD board members and hold public meetings. Our environmentally conscious board is committed to protecting our local water resources.

Felton voters were able to beat back Cal Am’s distortions, mismanagement, and price gouging, with 74.8 percent voting yes on Measure W.

We sincerely hope that Monterey can, too.


Michele Mosher, Felton

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Catherine Howell
May 20, 2014
In response to Mosher's letter. How is it Cal Am propaganda if the Felton resident, of her own volition and with no compensation, chose to speak her truth in a short video?

Are the thought police out in full force again?
Bill Smallman
May 19, 2014
Nina is right. Everybody does need to realize the bigger issues with water and the environment that are not getting addressed. We are over-drafting the ground water. We are living on the edge, and a 5 year drought would be devastating. Other areas with the same population have over 4 times the amount of water collection and storage.

Instead we have agencies only looking at their own problems and people fighting whether public vs. private and which one will charge less or which one can provide higher quality water, along with the ridiculous notion that the water will be piped away and sold to our detriment.

In my opinion, SLVWD should merge with all the smaller water agencies in SLV. And, they should divide into Districts, allowing one Director for each area. If you have a problem with these issues of water quality, rates and/or interconnect pipelines- then running for or electing a Director with these issues in your favor will go a long way vs. hoping a private company will do so. Smaller water agencies unnecessarily pay high overhead percentages, cut corners, don’t have enough resources to tackle these issues, and make the CDPH’s job more difficult. I know that many people look at SLVWD with disdain, but Felton and Lompico should feel as if they are joining a larger and better Water District, and instead of complaining – participate in making it the best.

We can collect and treat storm water, build reservoirs at the sand quarries, do more in conservation, restore the fish habitat, restore the groundwater basin, store a “cushion” of water for droughts, use enviro-friendly household products and end pollution into the river. This will come only with a single, government run Water District that encompasses the entire Valley. See www.SCwatersolutions for more info.

Catherine Howell
May 19, 2014
Or spend $9 million on an ego "campus" in Boulder Creek while tanks leak.

Or allow board members wives to handle real estate transactions.

You know, like, important stuff.
Bill Smallman
May 19, 2014

Keep bringing these issues up. It does take constructive involvement of the public to steer the Board in the right direction. Attacking and complaining goes nowhere IMHO. A private company may do spectacular work, but publicly owned needs public involvement to make best intentions reality.
Catherine Howell
May 20, 2014
You would prefer that citizens keep their mouths shut except in the quite confines of the water district board room.

Public outrage, what you refer to as "attacking and complaining" are a symptom of the SLVWD's mismanagement. Not a cause.

From what I've seen of the district's bungling, MORE public outrage is the key to change.

So, I'll consider your advice in its most suitable context.
May 22, 2014
small man may actually have a point there, Catty. seems you need to set your anger aside and put that energy towards good instead of evil. You and smitty down below ought to start a campaign for the board to see if you guys can put your money where your mouth is....
nina moore
May 19, 2014
Understanding our watershed and the importance of protecting owning our local water is crucial for this discussion. I go to the meetings, voice my concerns, and can share ideas with San Lorenzo Valley Water District. -- Which I would not be able to do with CAL AM. SLVWD does so much positive work for our watershed that is unseen. This is work that will ensure the pristine quality of our water & its entire ecosystem. They protect our redwoods, the creeks, and the soil upstream. They installed solar panels to run electricity at the Felton Water Treatment Plant. They repaired the fish ladders in Fall Creek. Would CAL Am do that? Absolutely not. A private (out of State) company would be in it for profit, and just add more chlorine to treat water instead of putting money into infrastructure & the protection of our watershed. My bills are noticeably less than when we were owned by Cal Am. -- And every neighbor I've talked with is in agreement.
Mike Smith
May 15, 2014
Let’s respond to Michele Mosher’s points. In context, Michele Mosher is Valley Women’s Club whose organizers fought FOR the takeover of the Felton water system, FOR redevelopment, FOR the Felton Meadow public housing project, and FOR just about any tax measure up for grabs.

1. Mosher and the Felton resident are incorrect about the 60% rate increase. It’s a 100% rate increase from the San Lorenzo Valley Water District. The initial 35% rate increase was spread over 3 years, the subsequent 65% rate increase is hitting us now. It is dishonest for Mosher to use the 60% figure.

2. Felton’s bond payment is a property tax that totals $14,000.

3. Felton property owners are paying $30 million over 30 years for distinct privilege of GIVING the water company to the San Lorenzo Valley Water District.

4. Mosher is dishonest in quoting a cost for “water alone”.

5. Mosher compares Cal Am “proposed increases” but fails to mention 100% ACTUAL rate increase by San Lorenzo Valley Water District.

6. Mosher makes no mention of:

- incompetent, and possibly illegal, investment schemes that have cost the district hundreds of thousands of dollars

- incompetent management of the water system

- failing infrastructure, insufficient infrastructure attention, even after past rate increases promised to address infrastructure

- board focus on a $9 million campus while tanks are rotting and leaking

- water piped out of the valley

- undemocratic governance by the board of directors

- property purchases that financially benefit board members and one of their spouses.

- grants, hiring, and consultant contracts that financially benefit their buddies

There is no savings with the San Lorenzo Valley Water District. We transferred ownership from a well-run company with oversight which was raising our rates to a poorly-run government agency with no oversight which is raising our rates even higher.

The Felton resident is to be admired for having the courage to speak up.

May 22, 2014
how do you REALLY feel? maybe you should run for the SLVWD board and see if YOU can do any better...

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