Race to the Wells
Marina Coast and Cal Am tussle over industrial Cemex property.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Downsizing may be all the rage, but Marina Coast Water District is looking to expand. The district board voted 4-1 on June 12 to begin annexing 368 acres of coastal land owned by Cemex, a global building-materials company.
In doing so, Marina Coast is relying on a 16-year old agreement between itself, the city of Marina and the Monterey County Water Resources Agency, aimed at slowing seawater intrusion in the North Marina area.
The agreement provides the basis for annexing two properties – Armstrong Ranch and Cemex (then owned by Lone Star Cement Corporation) – into assessment zones responsible for paying fees into a fund for a reclaimed water system, the Castroville Seawater Intrusion Project. That project was completed in 1997, and the assessment zones were reconfigured.
The Monterey County Local Agency Formation Commission board, which approves all changes to spheres of influence and annexations, will decide whether that 1996 agreement is relevant today. “We’re trying to understand what the intentions are,” LAFCO Executive Director Kate McKenna says.
She’s also asking what the annexation attempt has to do with California American Water’s proposed Water Supply Project, which proposes test and slant wells on the Cemex site. Cal Am threatened Cemex with eminent domain until Cemex granted surveyors access.
Marina Coast attorney Lloyd Lowrey says annexation would protect the district’s ability to control adjacent water sources. Cemex spokeswoman Sarah Engdahl declined to comment.
Cal Am spokeswoman Catherine Bowie says she’s unclear about Marina Coast’s plans for the property, “but we haven’t seen any direct evidence there’s an attempt to thwart our progress.”