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Salinas Valley Water Coalition Opening Brief a.12!04!019

Salinas Valley Water Coalition Opening Brief a.12!04!019

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Published by: SebViz2 on Aug 04, 2012
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05/13/2014

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BEFORETHEPUBLICUTILITIESCOMMISSIONOFTHESTATEOFCALIFORNIA
FILED
07-11-12
04:59PM
ApplicationofCalifomia-AmericanWaterCompany(U21
OW)
forApprovaloftheMontereyPeninsulaWaterSupplyProjectandAuthorizationtoRecoverAllPresentandFutureCostsinRatesApplication12-04-019(FiledApril23,2012)
OPENINGBRIEFONSELECTEDLEGALISSUESOFSALINASVALLEYWATERCOALITION
NancyIsakson,PresidentSalinasValleyWaterCoalitionPODrawer2670Greenfield,Ca93927Telephone:(831)224-2879Facsimile:(831)886-1528Email:
July11,2012
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BEFORETHEPUBLICUTILITIESCOMMISSIONOFTHESTATEOFCALIFORNIA
ApplicationofCalifomia-AmericanWaterCompany(U21OW)forApprovaloftheMontereyPeninsulaWaterSupplyProjectandAuthorizationtoRecoverAllPresentandFutureCostsinRatesApplication12-04-019(FiledApril23,2012)
OPENINGBRIEFONSELECTEDLEGALISSUESOFSALINASVALLEYWATERCOALITIONI.Introduction
PursuanttoAdministrativeLawJudgeWeatherford'sRulingdatedJune1,2012,theSalinasValleyWaterCoalition("Coalition")filesthisOpeningBriefonSelectedLegalIssuesthatwarrantearlyresolution.
II.IstheCountyordinanceGoverningDesalinationandLimitingDesaIPlantOwnershipandOperationtoPublicAgenciesPreemptedbyCommissionAuthority?
California-AmericanWaterCompany("Cal-Am")proposesawatersupplyprojecttodeliverwatertoitsservicearea(Seaside,DelReyOaks,Monterey,PacificGrove,Carmel,andCarmelValley).Themainelementofthisprojectistobuildadesalinationfacility("DesaIFacility")alongtheMontereyBayCoastinMarina,withintheSalinasValleyBasin("Basin"),andtheCountyofMonterey.Cal-Am'sapplicationcallsforCal-AmtoownandoperatetheDesalFacility.
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MontereyCountyCodeofOrdinance("Ordinance"),Title10,Chapter10.72,limitstheownershipandoperationofadesalinationfacilityintheCountytopublicagencies.Cal-AmcontendstheCounty'sOrdinancedoesnotapplytoitandispreemptedbyCaliforniaPublicUtilitiesCommissionauthority.TheSalinasValleyWaterCoalition("Coalition")hasreviewedtheissuefromahistoricalperspectiveinanefforttounderstandtheconsequences,intendedand/orunintendedofarulingthatthelocalordinanceispreempted,andtheresultingimpacttoourmembersandotherswithintheSalinasValleyGroundwaterBasin;ourcommentsareofferedinthatlight.
It
isclearthattheOrdinancerequiresownershipbyapublicentity.Chapter10.72.030
1
statesallapplicationsforanoperationpermit
shall
"Provideassurancesthateachfacilitywillbeownedandoperatedbyapublicentity."[Emphasisadded]ThevitalpurposeoftheOrdinanceistoensurethatthepublicwillhavetheopportunitytoparticipateinandcommentondecisionsrelatedtotheoperationofanydesalinationfacility.Publicinputisparticularlyimportantbecausethegroundwaterbasinisalreadyinoverdraftandcriticallyimpactedbyseawaterintrusion,aconditionthatcouldbeexacerbatedbyadditionalpumpingsuchasisproposedforCal-Am'sDesalFacility.Innumerableprivatewaterrightsandthepublicinterestinprotectionoftheaquiferthatsuppliesdrinkingwatertothecounty'scitiescouldbeimpactedbyunwiseoperationofnewwells.WhileCal-Ammaybeconsidereda'publicutility'becauseitprovidesawatersupplytothepublicanditisregulatedbyapublicentity,itisnotitselfapublicentity.Thusithasnoobligationtoconductitsbusinessinpublic,asdoesapublicentityundertheBrownAct,2ortodisclosedocumentsandinformationconcerningactionsthatvitallyaffectthepublicitserves,asdoesapublicentity.
1
AllreferencesaretotheMontereyCountyCodeofOrdinancesunlessotherwiseindicatedinthetext.
2
GovernmentCode
§§
54950etseq.
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