April 28, 2011
File it under the "Now you tell me" category: California American Water yesterday informed the state it's known for almost a year about a potential conflict of interest regarding the regional desalination project.
Steve Collins, a former Monterey County Water Resources Agency director, was making critical decisions about the $400-million regional desalination project while taking money from RMC Water and Environment, the engineering firm that last month won a $28 million consulting contract for the project.
The Weekly broke news of the apparent conflict in March; Collins resigned from the board in mid-April. The county is now investigating the matter.
Now, in response to a public records act request, Cal Am tells the California Public Utilities Commission's Division of Ratepayer Advocates it's known about Collins' cozy relationship with RMC for almost a year.
"At what date did Cal Am become aware that Mr. Collins was being paid by RMC for services related to the Regional Project?" the DRA had asked. "Did Cal Am disclose this knowledge to anyone at the California Public Utilities Commission?"
"The first Marina Coast Water District invoice containing sub-invoices from RMC for Mr. Collins' work was received at the Company's payment center on 5/14/2010," came Cal Am's April 27 reply.
"Because the cost of Mr. Collins' work for RMC has not been and will not be borne by California American Water or its ratepayers, there was no purpose in informing the Commission and California American Water did not do so."
Marina Coast Water District - which is governing the desal project along with Cal Am and MCWRA - paid RMC $150,000 for Collins' services.