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Get ready to rumble.

Public Water Now is kicking off its effort to take Cal Am Water public with a rally set for 1 p.m. Saturday Oct. 7 at Seaside’s Laguna Grande Park. Expect a news conference with Public Water Now founder George Riley and others along with a bit of entertainment, food trucks, etc.

The group is starting a petition drive to create a November 2018 ballot measure that would force a public takeover of the Peninsula’s water purveyor for reasons that include constantly rising water rates that have made the water here the most expensive in the United States.

Public Water Now attempted a similar measure in 2014 that was defeated by a blitz of deceptive advertising by Cal Am. There’s no reason to expect anything less this time around but organizers believe ratepayers have become fed up with Cal Am’s pricing and its propaganda.

Said Riley, “Skyrocketing water bills have people all over the Peninsula fed up with Cal Am. According to Food & Water Watch, we have the most expensive water in the country. Ratepayers have experienced a 68-percent increase in the cost of water over the last two years and there are more increases scheduled. It really bothers people that we’ve conserved water only to have Cal Am charge us $40 million for the water that we didn’t use to make up for lost profits.”

Riley said goal is to collect as many as 8,000 signatures, considerably more than the 6,200 needed to place the measure on the ballot.

The petition calls for the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District to adopt a policy of owning the water system and to acquire it if its determined to be “economically feasible.” The water management district would be required within nine months to initiate a plan to acquire and manage all the water facilities in the district boundaries. The result likely would be court hearings to establish the value of the system that Cal Am insists is not for sale.

The unpopularity of the water district, stemming from disagreement over its role, is certain to be used against the Public Water Now campaign, but the group is likely to emphasize that the agency is led by publicly elected board that voters can change.

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  • gin September 29, 2017, 9:05 am

    it CAN be done . . . Ojai PROVED it CAN be done!

  • Jeanne Turner September 29, 2017, 10:35 am

    We encourage people to come early to get food. There will be a Swiss Bistro food truck, music by Dave Holodiloff, good people, T-shirts, signs, buttons, and balloons. We will be in the Eucalyptus section of Laguna Grande, closest to Fremont.

  • John Dalessio September 29, 2017, 10:38 am

    Thank you, George Riley, for sticking with this cause. Let us know if we can help with the petitions.

    • Jeanne Turner September 29, 2017, 1:12 pm


      Yes, we can use help with our petition drive! Trainings are at the places and times listed below. If people are not available that week, I need to know who they are and email addresses because we will be doing other trainings.


      Monday, October 9th
      Unitarian Universalist Church
      490 Aguajito Road
      Carmel, CA
      (Where Aguajito comes into Highway 1 across the
      overpass from the roundabout)

      Times: 1:30 and 7:00 p.m.

      Tuesday, October 10th
      The Center for Change
      1238 Fremont Boulevard
      Seaside, CA
      (On the east side of Fremont, between Hilby and Harcourt)

      Times: 4:00 and 6:00 p.m.

      Thursday, October 12th
      Monarch Pines Mobile Home Park
      700 Briggs Avenue
      Pacific Grove, CA
      (Past the Sally Griffin Center)

      Time: 6:30 p.m.

      RSVP to Jeanne Turner

  • Bob Oliver September 29, 2017, 3:10 pm

    We are dealing with a criminal enterprise

  • Bob Oliver September 29, 2017, 3:12 pm

    How is it possible we ended up with the highest water rates in the nation? THINK!

  • Jean September 29, 2017, 5:59 pm

    Cal-Am is proposing to raise rates in Thousand Oaks by 30%. And planning to combine its operations in San Diego, Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. How would someone in Thousand Oaks consider a take-over of such an expansive area? That’s likely the reason for the merger.

  • Karl Pallastrini September 29, 2017, 6:36 pm

    What did it for me was collecting for water that we didn’t use during the drought. I recall Cal Am’s positive comments about our conservation efforts, that were aligned with Governor Brown’s plea to conserve. It always falls into the category of…how much is enough? While promoting a necessary conservation effort, they knew all along that we would pay for water that wasn’t used. We didn’t. There are few things that should be off-limits to shady profiteering. Water is at the top of the list. Name another commodity that falls into that category? I realize that running Cal Am out of town will be an expensive proposition. They know that. Frankly…I will pay the tariff to bring water management back to the Public Sector. When you are the most expensive water delivery system in the nation…what is there to lose?

    • Melodie Chrislock October 1, 2017, 8:12 pm

      Great point Karl!

  • bill leone September 29, 2017, 6:42 pm

    It is now time to stop complaining, roll up your sleeves or blouses & get to work.
    This is going to be difficult, to say the least: Cal Am will be pouring tens of millions of dollars to thwart PWN’s efforts to run them out of town on a rail; why? Because it will be well worth it to be able to soak its consumers with exponentially higher & higher rates.

    • Helga Fellay September 29, 2017, 8:26 pm

      bill, I don’t think I’ll roll up my blouse, at least not in public, because I fear it might be against the law. But I’ll gladly roll up the sleeves of my long-sleeved blouse. Not that it’s that important, but still…

  • Lou Panetta September 29, 2017, 7:48 pm

    I URGE everyone to vote against any candidate running for public office who does not support PWN. If elected officials realize that their political future is dependent on ridding their constituents of Cal Am, they will fall in line, or find other work.

  • Peggy Johnson September 30, 2017, 8:51 am

    You have enough ammunition to win this time around. Best wishes.

  • bill leone September 30, 2017, 10:50 am

    Helga, I suggest you do whatever it takes to get people’s attention.

  • Karl Pallastrini September 30, 2017, 6:52 pm

    Helga, Rolling up the Blouse would have been a problem in the Obama administration. Not so much with the Trump administration. Just saying……….

    • Helga Fellay September 30, 2017, 7:13 pm

      I don’t really think that either Obama or Trump give a rat’s ass whether I wear a blouse or not. It’s more a matter for local law enforcement, local “community standards” and the opinions of our learned friends sitting on Superior Court benches. With all this in mind, I think I’ll stay all zipped up, buttoned down and as covered as possible. I might not even dare roll up my sleeves, coming to think of it.

  • Karl Pallastrini September 30, 2017, 7:50 pm

    Since when did the posterior of a Rat become so offensive? It is true that Rats have few friends, but they do have purpose in regards to their contributions to the hierarchy of the food chain. I can think of many of those higher on the food chain whose posterior are far more offensive than the common rat.

    • Helga Fellay September 30, 2017, 9:00 pm

      so can I, so can I. And the higher on the food chain, the more offensive their posteriors.

  • Jeanne Turner October 1, 2017, 7:31 pm

    With you guys on our side – You are on our side aren’t you? (It’s kinda hard to tell) – we surely can’t lose. 🙂 It’s not too late to sign up for a petition drive training. And Helga, there will be an opportunity to write more thank you notes – if I bring you some more stationery.

    • Helga Fellay October 2, 2017, 2:34 pm

      I can hardly wait.

  • Michael Baer October 1, 2017, 9:31 pm

    It takes a village… a big freakin’ village… to dislodge the beast.

    If we want to say “bon voyage” to CalAm we all must do our part, whether it is talking it up with your friends and neighbors, pounding the pavement through the neighborhoods to collect signatures, going to the markets or post offices to do the same, hosting house parties for speakers to come give presentations, donating dollars, writing letters, showing up at public meetings like the water management district or your city council, or coming out to the Kickoff Party to bring joy and good juju to start the process, or all of the above… the only way we will have Community Water is through Community Effort!

    Thank you Royal, for spreading the word.

  • Michael Wellborn October 3, 2017, 6:52 am

    Thank you George Riley!
    It is long overdue to get the for-profit CalAm outta town!