1) Customers are fearful that a water moratorium on external watering is coming! The State Water Resources Control Board has issued a Cease and Desist order to Cal-Am for over-pumping the Carmel River and Seaside Aquifer. In the next few years Cal-Am will ramp down what they are pumping and providing to Monterey Peninsula residents and without a new source of water coming on line in a timely manner a moratorium may be the result.
2) Customers have watched for decades the struggle over water between the state, local agencies, and our water provider; Cal-Am, and distrust the players ability to bring new sources on line in a timely and cost effective manner. The bottom line is no new water sources have been brought on line after years of talk. Now our backs are against the wall, the Regional Project has been declared dead, agencies and people are suing each other over costs and conflicts of interest, water rights are up in the air, Cal-Am doesn't want to partner with a local municipality, an analysis of the desalination options between 3 or 4 proposals hasn't been completed, Pacific Grove is going down a path with one option while other local cities are trying to get a joint powers authority working, and it therefore isn't clear what the final outcome will be or when! How can anyone trust that the multitude of local and state agencies, local stakeholders, and Cal-Am, will pull off a solution that will benefit the community for the long term given the track record to date and the time frame necessary . It certainly isn't clear who is leading the effort in the community but it does appear the PUC is trying to provide some structure. It is safe to say we are all not on the same page!
3) Assuming the best happens and new sources of water are brought on-line in time, what is the cost of that water to the consumer? There have been opinions about what the cost of an acre foot of water from various new sources might be, but no one has quantified the cost to the consumer. Given pumping water from the Carmel River and the Seaside Aquifer is relatively low, new sources are likely to drive rates up further.
4) Many of our customers have voiced their need to make sure they have water. By putting in rainwater harvesting systems they can guarantee water availability for their vegetable or flower gardens etc. If a moratorium is put in place for a period of time they want to be able to bridge the gap and not lose thousands of dollars in food or landscaping.
None of the folks we have installed rainwater harvesting systems for have lawns! They typically have mostly drought tolerant plants, vegetable gardens, and are very conscious of their water usage and want to know what they can do to improve their conservation efforts. Rainwater Harvesting is not a panacea for the communities water problems but it does offer an alternative water source, more independence, and some control for local residents. Beyond that we all need to continue to be involved in meetings and forums and push our local governments to bring a long term water solution to the Monterey Peninsula.