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LandWatch Monterey County Supports
Much Less Expensive Recycled Water
Dear <<First Name>>; 
Yikes! Monterey County Weekly today reported that California American Water’s (Cal Am) bad math could mean 50% greater costs for desalinated water. Read the article.
“According to Cal Am’s testimony before the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the desalinated water would cost $3,711 per acre-foot to bring into the Cal Am system. (By comparison, Carmel River water – the majority of the current supply, which must be reduced to 3,376 acre-feet by the end of 2021, per a cease-and-desist order from the state – costs $271 per acre-foot, and Pure Water Monterey costs $1,720.) But in comments filed with the CPUC on September 4, the Water Management District asserts Cal Am’s cost estimate is incorrect due to an error, and that the correct number is $5,515 per acre-foot if the plant is operating at 100-percent of capacity.”
Combine that math error with Cal Am’s unrealistic assumption about operating at full capacity, and the price of desalinated water increases further: “Monterey Peninsula Water Management District (MPWMD) General Manager Dave Stoldt says that the proposed 86-percent capacity would drive the cost per acre-foot above $6,000, if the full cost of the plant is spread among ratepayers.”
And the cost skyrockets further if Cal Am has to first buy cheap water from Pure Water Monterey. “If the cheapest sources were prioritized, MPWMD asserts, the plant should only operate at 36-percent capacity in the near term (which would drive the true cost of the desalinated water to about $15,442 per acre-foot).”
Let that sink in $15,442 per acre-foot of desalinated water versus $1,720 per acre-foot from Pure Water Monterey -- a nine-fold difference!
So why should ratepayers bear the costs of Cal Am and the Hospitality Association’s unrealistic demand projections? No surprise here: “Cal Am believes the CPUC’s proposed decision, which was published August 14, puts too much of the project’s risk on the company. For instance, if the water’s cost “far exceeds the anticipated costs,” or it operates “significantly below the… 86-percent capacity,” the proposed decision states shareholders – not ratepayers – should pay.”
This is why LandWatch Monterey County supports much less expensive recycled water from the expansion of Pure Water Monterey as an alternative to the potentially catastrophically expensive Cal Am desalination plant.
Thank you Dave Schmalz and Monterey County Weekly​ for your insightful coverage on this extremely important (and extremely costly) issue.


Michael D. DeLapa
Executive Director,
LandWatch Monterey County
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