Monterey Herald

Water rates


Why do local residentia­l ratepayers want Cal Am to go? That's an easy question if there ever was one. For Carmel River and other water — for which

Cal Am pays nothing while taking much of it illegally — the company has been increasing its charge per acre-foot to all local ratepayers from $2,382 in 2007 to $8,539 in 2022, almost a fourfold increase. Even that is not enough for the company, which is now holding ratepayers hostage for additional money before it will sign a water-purchase agreement it had made with local public agencies for recycled water that otherwise, without that additional money, would cost ratepayers no more than $3,000 per acrefoot.

All the while, our usage has been going down: from 12,917 acre-feet per year in 2007 to 8,614 in 2022. Evidently, what Cal Am has been trying to do is to drive our total water usage down to legal Carmel River levels by increasing the unit cost of water to residentia­l ratepayers while maintainin­g and even increasing its 2007 profits.

Why do local hotels and restaurant­s not share residentia­l ratepayers' concerns? That also is an easy question to answer. Years ago, the local hospitalit­y industry made a deal with Cal Am to keep its water rates constant regardless of its amount of usage. The 2022 rate for businesses that use state-of-theart water-efficiency practices, like low-flush toilets, is $6,182 per acre-foot, regardless of how much water they use. That is about 72 percent of what they and residentia­l ratepayers now are paying together.

That means residentia­l ratepayers alone are now paying even more than $8,539 per acre-foot. According to economists, water should cost a household no more than four percent of its annual income. An average household, which uses about a half acre-foot of water per year, would have to have an annual income of over $107,000 to meet the four-percent standard!

The prospect of affordable housing on the Monterey Peninsula looks anything but bright with Cal Am at the helm of our local water supply.

— Ron Weitzman, president of the Water Ratepayers Associatio­n of the Monterey Peninsula

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