PWN has been circulating a flyer claiming that California American Water’s Monterey District has the most expensive water service in all of the United States. There are two main issues with this flyer. First, the data they use as proof is highly misleading. Second, rates across California have been widely impacted by California’s historic drought, regardless of whether the utility is public or private. Between 2010 and 2017, water rates in Los Angeles rose more than 70%, while rates increased more than 100% in San Francisco.

Are Monterey rates high compared to other areas in the country? Yes. This is because the local water system has significant capital investment needs, including the development of a new water source. These challenges, which drive the cost of water, would stay the same under public ownership. Public Water Now wants you to believe this is because Cal Am seeks to gouge its customers, and if only Cal Am was gone, you too could enjoy the low rates afforded by a public agency. However, as we can see in Felton, CA, having a publicly-owned water system does not guarantee you low rates. Currently, Felton residents pay comparable rates to Monterey, and that's without the 30-year $535 annual property tax they are paying to fund the public takeover of their water utility.

Regardless of whether the utility is publicly or privately owned, limited water supplies and tiered pricing to promote conservation have driven up rates. Cal Am is working to reduce rates by developing a drought-proof water supply through desalination.

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