Thursday, September 28, 2006
How can you let Cal-Am off with their outrageous fish stories? [“Water Warrior,” Sept. 15-20]. By the time I finished reading your painfully one-sided [interview with Cal-Am manager Steve Leonard], I can excuse anyone who felt sorry for them.
But Cal-Am turned the truth upside down. Helping Our Peninsula’s Environment has a rebuttal:
MYTH: “We’re open to essentially any solution.”
REALITY: Cal-Am is only open to huge growth solutions. Just like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, we need a solution that is not too big, not too small, but just right. If it is too small, our water supply continues to hurt Carmel River steelhead and red-legged frogs. If it is too big, excess water will be used for growth that Peninsula voters persistently reject, and will increase our water bills to pay for it.
“Cal-Am makes double the profit you can get on a bank CD by selling illegally pumped water.”
A genuine solution that Cal-Am actively ignores is our Water Management District’s just-right Sand City desalination plant.
The two giant desal proposals for Moss Landing are huge growth projects. The District’s desalination plant in Sand City is only a few months away from a Final Environmental Impact Report. But when the Water Management District was taken over by pro-growth directors (including former Cal-Am General Manager Larry Foy, Michelle Knight and Dave Potter), they promptly stopped funding.
MYTH: “The water rights issue [on the Carmel River] is something that obviously nobody thought about until the ‘90s.”
REALITY: In 1987, after several years of Cal-Am ignoring their concerns, the Carmel Steelhead Association filed a formal complaint with our State Water Resources Board about Cal-Am’s illegally taking huge amounts of water from our Carmel River without water rights. The state board dragged their feet until 1995. Then they found exactly what the Steelhead Association had complained about. They were forced to uphold our law and firmly conclude that Cal-Am was illegally pumping Carmel River water.
Cal-Am continues to do so today, almost 20 years later, and makes double the profit you can get on a bank CD by selling that illegally pumped water.
What is a further outrage: Since the 1995 State Water Resources Board decision, Cal-Am has remained silent whenever the pro-growth Water Management District has approved dozens of water-use increases, including subdivisions and golf courses. Cal-Am’s self-serving silence has overseen the increase of some 8,000 new water connections on our Monterey Peninsula; several of those are new golf courses. Is it a coincidence that Cal-Am makes more money on each of those new connections?
MYTH: “Our proposal for the coastal water project…[will] produce zero water, no new water.”
REALITY: Cal-Am’s coastal water project is a camel’s nose under the tent. Since we voted down their goofy giant growth-forcing dam in 1995, Cal-Am has been working with developers to make a huge growth water project.
To do so they have been trying to ruin our democracy that allows us to vote down huge, harmful, growth-forcing water projects. Twice, Cal-Am pushed hard for laws in Sacramento that came close to killing our right to vote on local water projects. Cal-Am spent millions on this—and then tried to charge us for it.
Maybe the reason Cal-Am is so deeply hated, as they readily admit, is not simply because they are trying to make a greedy buck and destroy our community and its imperiled habitats, but because they so craftily and dishonorably avoid the truth and the wishes of our community.
Cal-Am is stealing our porridge, breaking our chairs and sleeping in our beds uninvited. We bears should unite and send them running like Goldilocks!
DAVID DILWORTH is Executive Director of Pacific Grove-based Helping Our Peninsula’s Environment (HOPE).