On June 3, voters in the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District (MPWMD) must decide whether to vote in favor of or oppose Measure O. If approved, Measure O would:
- Create policy to establish and maintain public ownership of MPWMD’s water system, which is currently owned and operated by California American Water (CAW);
- Commission a report on the feasibility of MPWMD’s acquisition of the water system and the development of a plan and schedule to move forward; and
- Instruct the MPWMD board of directors to begin the process of acquiring all water system assets and infrastructure, provided the report is positive.
In response to state- and court-imposed reductions of MPWMD’s water use from the Carmel River and Seaside aquifer and the state’s cease-and-desist order imposing a deadline of January 1, 2017, to significantly reduce water withdrawals from the Carmel River, several stakeholders came together to reach an agreement on a Water Supply Project to address these reductions. Tests are currently underway, and the project is moving forward.
Monterey Mayor and President of the Monterey Peninsula Regional Water Authority (MPRWA) Chuck Della Sala and Carmel-by-the-Sea Mayor and MPRWA Vice President Jason Burnett, on behalf of themselves and the mayors of Del Rey Oaks, Pacific Grove, Sand City and Seaside, submitted a guest commentary to the Monterey Herald urging a no vote on Measure O.
According to the commentary, “Just when things are looking brighter, along comes Measure O, [which] threatens to create discord out of harmony. It jeopardizes the fragile agreement we have forged to create a long-term solution.”
The mayors contend that Measure O could put the Project’s permitting at risk, increase the cost of financing, delay the restoration of the Carmel River and force water rationing, which is “why all six mayors on the Monterey Peninsula unanimously oppose Measure O,” stated the commentary. “Whether or not you support public water, this is the wrong time and the wrong way to approach the issue. We are making significant progress on the desalination plant — with a finish line in sight – but Measure O would jeopardize this progress while offering no alternative solutions. It just leaves us dry.”
Subsequently on May 6, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors voted to oppose Measure O by a 4 to 1 vote. Additionally on May 9, both the Monterey County Herald and the Carmel Pine Cone recommended voting No on O. The Herald editorial stated, “Measure O is at best a distraction and at worst a hindrance to making progress on solving the Peninsula’s water problems.”