Judge OK’s moratorium on new water connections on the Peninsula.
January 25, 2011
If you haven’t yet gotten a permit to add that extra bathroom to your Monterey Peninsula home—or open that new bakery in Seaside—don’t count on getting one anytime soon.
An administrative law judge with the California Public Utilities Commission issued a draft decision today that would freeze new water connections in the area until California American Water Company has a new water source to replace water currently being overpumped from the Carmel River.
The judge’s proposed decision supports a cease-and-desist order issued by the State Water Resources Control Board in October 2009. Cal Am needs the CPUC’s permission to follow through on the state water board’s ordered moratorium on new connections.
Cal Am first asked the CPUC to sanction the moratorium last year, but action was delayed by Cal Am’s lawsuit against the water board over the cease-and-desist order. A judge temporarily delayed enforcement of the order, but it’s now back in effect.
The freeze on new water connections may not actually change much for most cities within the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District, which have already used up their historic water allocations.
“The community has been under a de facto moratorium for years,” notes Cal Am spokeswoman Catherine Bowie.
Seaside, with about 50 acre-feet of unallocated water credits, and Monterey, with about 10, would be most heavily impacted by the ruling. Both cities have been counting on that water to complete redevelopment projects.
“With a moratorium in place, these projects would be halted until a new water supply can be developed,” Bowie adds.
The next step is a CPUC vote on whether to finalize the judge’s proposed decision. A green light for the moratorium would likely increase pressure to move forward with the recently approved Regional Desalination Project.