14 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY JANUARY 25-31, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com Outside of rare situations involving historic water rights, the State Water Board has prohibited California American Water from setting new water meters—or upsizing existing ones—since it imposed a ceaseand-desist order on the company’s overpumping of the Carmel River in 2009. That means housing projects on the Peninsula have largely been impossible, along with, say, adding another bathroom to an existing house. Cal Am, the investor-owned utility that delivers water to the Peninsula’s taps, maintains a desalination project is necessary right now to meet demand, and to get the state to lift its order. The Monterey Peninsula Water Management District has long disagreed with that assessment, and its staff believes that, with expansion of recycled water project Pure Water Monterey that will come online in 2025, there is more than enough water to supply Cal Am’s local service area for at least the next 30 years. MPWMD General Manager Dave Stoldt also believes that there should be enough supply to get the State Water Board to lift the order, while Cal Am has maintained that only desal will do that. Which of the two opinions is correct is currently being assessed by the California Public Utilities Commission; as part of the California Coastal Commission’s approval of the desal project in 2022, Cal Am must show the immediate need for the project in testimony to the CPUC. Chris Cook, Cal Am’s local director of operations, filed his testimony last December, and on Jan. 22, Stoldt filed his. Cal Am forecasts annual water demand in 2050 will be 14,480 acrefeet, while the district predicts 10,599 acre-feet—a 37-percent difference. They disagree on both how to count population forecast, and how much water each person will use. Stoldt’s testimony reflects something he has talked about for years: that Cal Am is double- and triple-counting the same thing. Here’s how: Cal Am uses the Associated Monterey Bay Area Governments’ growth assessments to project population growth, while adding on top of that demand from the state Regional Housing Needs Allocation and legal lots of record, both of which are already accounted for AMBAG’s projections which, per a Jan. 10 AMBAG report, are “substantially lower” than the agency’s 2022 projections. In other words, Stoldt says, Cal Am is sometimes counting the water demand created by a new family in a new house three times instead of one. Cal Am argues that people will use more water once desal is built, on the basis that tiered rate structures—a conservation incentive—will be removed. But that doesn’t account for the higher cost of desalinated water, which would be shared among ratepayers. The CPUC will make its assessment in the coming months. By fall, Stoldt intends to petition the State Water Board to lift the cease-and-desist order after the Pure Water expansion is online in 2025. Cal Am has indicated that it doesn’t intend to join him in doing so. On Demand How much water does the Peninsula need to remove the shackles of water poverty? By David Schmalz Dave Stoldt of the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District filed testimony on Jan. 22 with his water supply forecast, something of a rebuttal to Cal Am’s, which is 37-percent higher. NEWS Cal Am is double- and triple-counting the same thing. DANIEL DREIFUSS Apply at www.centcoastfcu.com, visit your local branch, or call us at (831) 393-3480 Big Become A Member Today and Access Your Home Equity NMLS# 786119 Become A Member Today And Access Your Home Equity A home equity line of credit (HELOC) can be an easy, affordable way to nance home improvement projects, so go ahead, Dream Big! Seaside: 4242 Gigling Rd. Salinas: 1141 S. Main St. Soledad: 315 Gabilan Dr. King City: 510 Canal St. DreamBig Ready to unlock the hidden value in your home? *Terms and conditions apply. Apply at www.centcoastfcu.com, visit your local branch, or call us at (831) 393-3480 Monterey County eye AssoCiAtes Eyecare for the whole family in two convenient locations! Including treatment for cataracts, glaucoma, corneal diseases, diabetic eye disease and macular degeneration…Most insurances accepted! 1441 Constitution Blvd. Bldg. 400, Suite 100 • Salinas, CA 93906 831-424-1150 406 Canal Street King City, CA 93930 831-385-6400 Eric J. Del Piero, MD Leland H. Rosenblum, MD Anna J. Shi, MD • Roger C. Husted, MD Elaine J. Zhou, MD • Braden A. Burckhard, MD www.montereyeye.com MEDICAL AND SURGICAL DISEASES OF THE EYE Careen Caputo, OD, MPH • Aldon Rodriguez, OD