Cease and Desist In Effect
Judge's ruling today could restrict future water flow for the Peninsula.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
The state's cease-and-desist order against California American Water is now in effect: Judge Kevin Murphy of the San Jose Superior Court lifted the freeze on the order this morning.
Cal Am will immediately apply for a moratorium on new water connections in its service area, according to spokeswoman Catherine Bowie. She also expects Monterey Peninsula Water Management District to decide whether customers will have to begin water rationing.
But MPWMD Board Director Kristi Markey doesn't expect any immediate impacts on water users. "We are already below the maximum use for this year," she writes by e-mail. "The CDO limits our draw from the River to 10,429 acre feet this year; we do not expect to need more than 10,000…Water users don't need to do anything differently."
The Seaside Basin aquifer storage and recovery program, along with the new Sand City desalination plant, will also help ease the water pressures this year, Markey adds. "In terms of future years, the ramp-down schedule in the CDO is very gentle and manageable until the last year, 2016, when it drops dramatically to the legal limit of 3,376 acre feet."
The state water board imposed the cease-and-desist order last October, triggering a mandatory scaling-down of Carmel River diversions and other water-conservation measures. But a month later, Monterey Superior Court Judge Kay Kinglsey put the order on pause, pending legal challenges by MPWMD and Cal Am. The case focuses on whether the cease-and-desist order is legal, given the public health and safety implications for the Peninsula.
Judge Murphy consolidated the two cases this morning. Both will be heard in his San Jose court.
The decision is likely to increase the sense of urgency around the Regional Water Project, an expensive and controversial desalination project that would provide the region with a much-needed, drought-free water source, but is also expected to at least double Cal Am water rates.
Last night, the Pacific Grove City Council endorsed the project.