April 17, 2012
Monterey Herald, Monterey, California

Storage and recovery a bad idea

Aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) is a sham.  The total cost of Phase 1 of the project is hard to determine because it was divided between Cal Am and the water management district.  In their 2006-2008 budget documents, the district allocated about $3.25 million to the project and Cal Am about $13 million for wells and storage tanks, raising the Cal Am rate base from $102.5 million to $116.2 million, all at ratepayer expense.

In addition to the 8.325 percent monthly district user fee, that means that ratepayers have had to add about 8.5 percent of the $13.7 million rate-base increase to their yearly water bills.

According to Cal Am, ASR is more costly per acre-foot than desalination.  What is more, Cal Am will develop all of Phase 2, at greater ratepayer expense.   Even worse, no infrastructure exists for making any stored water available to ratepayers south of Seaside, not to mention that the river had no excess water to store this winter.  Worst of all, whatever water might be taken from the river for storage may have to be part of the 3,316 acre-feet maximum allowed by the state after 2016.

Rather than ameliorating it, ASR exacerbates our water-supply problem.

Ron Weitzman

Weitzman, who lives in Carmel, is president of WaterPlus.

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