" - Guest commentary by RON WEITZMAN


September 4, 2015  
Monterey Herald, Monterey, California

Guest Commentary


Exploring reasons for implosion of desal project

By Ron Weitzman

Why did the regional desal project implode? Contrary to Frank Emerson's view (Aug. 15 letter), consider this one. Business and politics are about making deals from which each party involved gets something. Cal Am was to get $106 million from the regional project. According to testimony by County Administrator Lew Bauman, the county sought to cut Marina Coast out of the regional project because of what it had done.

What had it done? It had worked to introduce a bill in Congress that would have paid for the entire regional project plus the teardown of the San Clemente Dam. Cal Am would have lost its stake in both deals. So, after Cal Am and Monterey County made that discovery, what you might imagine could happen did, in fact, happen. Exempting Cal Am from its ordinance requiring desal-plant ownership by a public agency, the county cut Marina Coast out of the regional project and Cal Am took over ownership of the project's entire desal operation, using under-seafloor slant wells for lack of groundwater rights. Stephen Collins was the justification for that action, not the reason.

In hardball business and politics, you try to save ratepayers and taxpayers money at your peril.

- Ron Weitzman, president, Water Ratepayers Association of the Monterey Peninsula

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