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????Two items in the Pine Cone today could not help but pique my curiosity. Perhaps the Partisan readers can join me in asking the Mayors’ Authority and the Pine Cone a few questions to ask their interviewees the next time they discuss water projects with them:

1. Cal Am will now miss the August Coastal Commission meeting, and is shooting for September. Fair enough, but how does the conflict of interest investigation by the Public Utilities Commission enter into the discussion regarding restarting a well that relies upon audit results of the person being investigated?

2. Deep Water Desal has announced that it can have desalinated water produced for distribution by Fall 2017. They have not yet even started the EIR process, in fact, their public partner, the California Lands Commission, has not even started the process of obtaining a consultant. The Moss Landing Harbor District has been very clear that Deep Water’s plan to punch a hole under Highway 1 and under the Harbor District’s property is a non-starter. So, Deep Water, how do you plan such an aggressive schedule when you do not currently possess an intake option for your 25 MGD (25 million gallons per day) plant?

Steve Collins is an accountant and former chairman of the Monterey County Water Resources Agency board of directors. He helped lead the county’s efforts to develop a desalination plant in partnership with Cal Am and was prosecuted for a conflict of interest that he maintains was encouraged and approved by top county officials. He has worked as a consultant for Nader Agha, who is pursuing a separate desalination project.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Marc Del Piero July 24, 2015, 1:20 pm

    In response to your first question, between 2005 and May, 2015, in spite of numerous letters of objections by the Ag Land Trust, the CPUC never once contacted the Ag Land Trust regarding the Trust’s farm and potable groundwater supplies that are exposed to irreparable contamination by Cal-Am slant well. In May, 2015, AFTER the CPUC’s draft EIR was completed and released indicating that their now-discredited consultants could not “find” the Ag Land Trust’s irrigation wells (which are visible from Highway 1), and after it was disclosed in THE PARTISAN that the Ag Land Trust’s wells were (and always have been) operational and used by the Trust for irrigation purposes, a representative of the CPUC’s “team” sent the Trust an e-mail asking for information regarding the Trust’s farmland and wells. We asked him to contact the Trust after June 30 and we would provide him with a tour of the ranch and the information regarding our potable groundwater. We are still waiting for a call back.
    I suspect that you may have to wait another 10 years before you receive a responsive first e-mail to your “inconvenient” and deeply troubling first question. The TRUTH was the first thing that was sacrificed in this “fair and open public process”. The second is any suggestion that this ever was a “public process”.

    • Larry Gowin August 16, 2015, 1:23 pm

      It seems the ‘new normal’ is that government (CPUC) does not have to respond to inquiries from anyone for any reason. Citizens contacting government are a nuisance and a distraction at best and an enemy at worst. The truth is hardly the point and public process only refers to the ‘public paycheck’ which finances these private interest group undertakings. What ever staff reports is the ‘truth’ and if they lie they are not doing it on purpose or responsible for the false statements. Good enough for government work was the motto when I was young and indifferent to community problems and concerns. If you want to know how to run a corrupt political organization go ask Lou Calcagno. I think he is running seminars on his milk ranch as a retirement project.

  • Jean July 24, 2015, 2:21 pm

    With the State Lands Commission as Deep Water Desal’s public partner, I wonder how it will weigh in concerning plans to “punch a hole” under Hwy 1 and the harbor?

  • Stephen Collins July 24, 2015, 2:46 pm

    Having been involved with an EIR or two in my time, I can tell you little details like punching 6 foot diameter holes under a public conveyance, within Coastal Commission auspice, and contiguous to a Federal sanctuary are not exactly easy undertakings. By the way, for the Cal Am apologists, Royal is correct, I have worked on a variety of projects for Nader, NONE related to his Desal project. I have intentionally stayed away because I do not want to be a distraction from his success. I am not now, nor have I ever been paid by Agha for Desal related work; thought I would make that clear.

  • Michael Baer July 25, 2015, 10:04 am

    The easy solution to question one is for the Coastal Commission to push the hearing on the permit back further, after the Sept 30 deadline from the CPUC. And that is just the end of the comment period. How long it takes the CPUC to make a decision on Williams conflict of interest, and remedies for such, could take another chunk of time, or kill the project, or create recirculation of the DEIR adding a minimum of 6 months.

    Meanwhile there is still data collection that should be happening at the test well. By that I mean what happens to the groundwater after the pumping has stopped? It has been 7 weeks, and it’s likely to be at least that much longer before pumping resumes (if it ever does.) What’s happening on the recharge, are groundwater levels rising and at what rate and what salinity?

    While considering the above, it has added a little paranoid wrinkle to my thinking. Is there independent entity with their eye on the test well while it is supposedly idle (except for 6 hours per week to maintain the system)? How do we know that CalAM isn’t secretly illegally pumping in an attempt to manipulate the data? It’s a billion dollar deal, and they are not the most forthright or honorable of companies. If they felt it could help their spin with the Coastal Commission re permitting, I wouldn’t put it past them.

    As far as question two, it’s a non-starter. If what Collins says is true, there is nothing to be done, because it will never get off the ground.