Thursday, August 25, 2011
The message was tightly controlled at an Aug. 23 community involvement forum on the Regional Desalination Project. The event at Monterey Plaza Hotel was sponsored by project partners California American Water, Marina Coast Water District and Monterey County Water Resources Agency.
A facilitator kept the two-hour agenda on schedule, zipping through loaded topics like the ongoing conflict-of-interest investigation, pending litigation, possible invalidation of the project agreements, and financing the $400 million venture in the face of such hurdles.
Matthew Challis of financing contractor Piper Jaffray said promising funding sources include a Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan, a federal grant and investment-grade bonds.
In a rare flash of sass, Marina Coast General Manager Jim Heitzman, responding to an audience question about Marina Coast and MCWRA missing a deadline to secure partial financing, said, “Cal Am sent us a letter on default and we know they’re wrong.”
George Riley of Citizens for Public Water said the public has lost confidence in the partners. “I think the community will be very hard-pressed to support this project moving forward.”
But Tom Rowley of the Monterey Peninsula Taxpayer Association disagreed. “The backbone of this community,” he said, “is in favor of moving forward on this project.”