FLOW member John Fasolas fields questions on water issues at a recent
Migration Festival at Henry Cowell redwood Park.
Friends of Locally Owned Water (FLOW) grew out of a series of meetings
held by Felton residents beginning in October 2002 to discuss the
fate of the Felton water system.
Over the past two years the system - which had been run by Citizen's
Utilities for more than four decades - was sold to American Water
Works in New Jersey, which was bought by RWE Aktiengesellschaft
- the third largest water company in the world - through its subsidiary,
UK-based Thames Water. Shortly after buying the Felton system, RWE
filed for a 74% rate increase.
After much research, we learned that a locally-owned, locally-managed
water system could offer much lower rates,better service and protection
of our natural resources than what was being proposed by RWE and
its statewide subsidiary, California-American Water.
In the spring and summer of 2003, we collected signatures from
almost 1,100 Felton residents - almost 80% of the number who voted
in the last election - on a petition asking the County to help us
acquire the water system. The County Board of Supervisors, led by
Felton's representative Mark Stone, voted unanimously to support
us and has worked with us since then to move us toward that goal.
To acquire the water system, we must vote to create a Mello-Roos
district and approve a bond that will raise the money to pay RWE/Cal-Am.
The bond will be paid back through property taxes paid by Felton
residents who use the water system. (Well owners won't pay). Despite
Cal-Am's claims, the increased property taxes will be more than
offset by lower monthly water fees - particularly when compared
against Cal-Am's current request for a 108% rate hike.
If successful, the Felton water system will become part of the
San Lorenzo Valley Water District, which serves 5,700 residents
in Boulder Creek, Brookdale, Ben Lomond and Scotts Valley. SLV customers
pay 40% less per month than we do under Cal-Am right now
before the already approved 44% increase or the 108% increase Cal
Am is now requesting.
Under local control, if you have a problem, the people who answer
the phone will not be in some distant office in Illinois or Indiana,
they will be here in San Lorenzo Valley. And the person doing the
repair will not be based in Monterey County, they will live and
work full time in our valley and report to a local board of directors.
If we dont like how the system is operating, we wont
have to petition the Public Utilities Commission for relief through
a bureaucratic maze. The SLV water district board is accountable
to us the voters in regularly scheduled, democratic elections. We
will control our water and watershed, not a foreign company with
distant investors and directors whose primary motivation is maximizing
their companys profits.
We believe that affordable water is a right, not a commodity. Local
ownership with local accountability will keep it that way for everyone
in the San Lorenzo Valley.