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San Lorenzo Valley Water District criticized over proposed environmental budget cuts
May 6,2018 - Santa Cruz Sentinel
BOULDER CREEK — As budget season approaches, a valley water district's board has come under fire for its proposed cost-cutting measures. Felton resident Larry Ford on Thursday asked San Lorenzo Valley Water District board leaders for some "smart innovation" in cost-effective operational budgeting, as an alternative to cutting funding to several of its standing environmental programs in the coming year's budget.

April 24, 2019
CALL TO ACTION - SLV Water District Board of Directors meeting, Thursday May 2 at 6:30pm, to select a new board member.

13060 Hwy 9, Boulder Creek

With the recent resignation of Margaret Bruce from the San Lorenzo Valley Water District Board of Directors, Felton residents have a new opportunity to secure representation on the water board when the board votes for a replacement on May 2.

As of right now, only one candidate has applied for the vacant seat and that individual has a track record of supporting Cal-Am's fight against the citizens of Felton, going so far as appearing in a Cal-Am television commercial criticizing our successful takeover from American Water and misrepresenting how Felton residents felt about lower water rates and improved service provided by the SLVWD.

We're asking all Felton FLOW supporters to attend the SLVWD board meeting 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 2 SLVWD board meeting at the SLVWD offices, 13060 Hwy 9, Boulder Creek to advocate for a candidate that represents the hard work we did and the benefits we've gained by by joining the SLVWD.

It's time for your voice to be heard. We worked hard to secure public ownership of our water system. We need you to help us protect the integrity and environmental stewardship of the water district.

Felton homeowners to benefit from lower bond rates
Santa Cruz Sentinel, October 31, 2012
FELTON -- Felton homeowners will likely see a slight drop in their property tax bills next year, thanks to low municipal bond interest rates.

The San Lorenzo Valley Water District purchased the system in 2008 for $10.5 million. But work to gain support for the purchase started in 2001, the same year Cal Am bought the system from Citizens Utilities and significantly raised water rates.

The interest rate on the bond stands at 5.1 percent. But that would drop to 4.1 percent under a refinancing plan that involves selling new bonds. That would translate to an annual savings of $45,000, according to a staff report presented at Tuesday's Board of Supervisor's meeting. For individual property owners, the refinancing would shave about $30 from tax bills.

FLOW's supporters getting ready for the Felton Remembers Parade.

Commemorative T-shirtWe still have a few commemorative FLOW Water Independence Day t-shirts.

Color -- light blue with navy blue lettering

The FLOW logo is shown on both sides, smaller on the front, and larger on the back, with the following text:

"Felton & San Lorenzo Valley Water District, Together We Did It !!"

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world - Margaret Mead "

$12 each, Size small only.

Place your order with Susan Merritt -- 831-335-9140 or susanmerritt@sbcglobal.net .


SoCal Town Organizes Mutiny Against Water Company Over High Rates
May 5, 2012 12:01 AM
OJAI, Ventura County (CBS 5) – Soon, residents in one of the Bay Area’s poorest communities expect to learn if they’ll see another jump in their utility bills. Last year, CBS 5 first reported on the situation in Bay Point, where water can easily cost two or three times more than what people pay across the rest of Contra Costa County, even though it’s the exact same water. Now, the people of Bay Point aren’t the only ones complaining.

Water buyout bid draws crowd - Groups push for public ownership
February 10, 2011, Monterey Herald
More than 100 people listened to a three-person panel speak Wednesday for a bid to back the public purchase of California American Water's Monterey district system.

San Lorenzo Valley Water District discusses possible water rate hike
February 9, 2011, Santa Cruz Sentinel
FELTON - Residents who get water from the San Lorenzo Valley Water District could see higher bills as the district discusses how to make up for two consecutive years of operating losses.

League of Women Voters holds water forum on WaterPlus' efforts to buy Cal Am - Forum panel includes group that proposes public purchase of Cal Am

Monterey Herald, February 6, 2011
A forum on the bid to purchase California American Water may be the only opportunity to hear from both the group backing the effort and the company that is the target, at least for several months.

The New Oil
Should private companies control our most precious natural resource?

NewsWeek, October 8, 2010
Sitka, Alaska, is home to one of the world’s most spectacular lakes. Nestled into a U-shaped valley of dense forests and majestic peaks, and fed by snowpack and glaciers, the reservoir, named Blue Lake for its deep blue hues, holds trillions of gallons of water so pure it requires no treatment. The city’s tiny population—fewer than 10,000 people spread across 5,000 square miles—makes this an embarrassment of riches. Every year, as countries around the world struggle to meet the water needs of their citizens, 6.2 billion gallons of Sitka’s reserves go unused. That could soon change. In a few months, if all goes according to plan, 80 million gallons of Blue Lake water will be siphoned into the kind of tankers normally reserved for oil—and shipped to a bulk bottling facility near Mumbai.

Rate hike on tap for SLV water customers
Santa Cruz Sentinel, January 20, 2009
The price of water is expected to surge about 30 percent over the next three years for the 8,600 customers of the San Lorenzo Valley Water District, which some Felton residents say feels like a "double whammy" after shelling out more for property taxes this year to buy their water system from California American Water Co. and link it with the district.

FLOW thanks Stone, others
Santa Cruz Sentinel, January 19, 2009
On behalf of Felton FLOW, I'd like to thank Mark Stone and the other members of the county Board of Supervisors, the SLVWD board of directors and staff who helped us acquire our water system. For the first time in my life I looked forward to getting a bill. Knowing that we have a locally elected board that cares about our watershed is primary, but getting a bill at half of what I would have had from Cal Am was icing on the cake.

SLV water rates to rise for three years
Press Banner , Friday, January 16, 2009
A letter from the San Lorenzo Valley Water District will arrive in San Lorenzo Valley mailboxes within the next week to outline a district’s water rate increase.

FELTON FLOWS ON: A California Town Beats Back the Water Cartel
Terrain Magazine, December 1, 2008
by Rachel Aronowitz
After a nearly six-year fight to acquire its water system from the German-owned corporate energy behemoth, RWE (Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk AG), residents of Felton, Calif., prevailed in regaining local control of their water.

David vs. Goliath in the Redwoods
The Sphere - August Issue
By Patrick McCormick, Santa Cruz LAFCO Executive Officer

Fifty years ago, the San Lorenzo Valley was a series of small communities along a river in a redwood forest north of Santa Cruz. The local economy was based upon logging and summer tourism. The valley's population has since grown and changed to become five unincorporated communities where relatively affordable full-time homes are located for people who work elsewhere in Santa Cruz County and "over the hill" in Santa Clara County.

Felton water system now in public hands
Press Banner, September 12, 2008
California American Water Co. and the San Lorenzo Valley Water District have completed the transfer of ownership of the Felton water system from private to public ownership.

Felton water days away from ownership change
Santa Cruz Sentinel, August 29, 2008
FELTON -- California American Water's Felton office has closed, and the final meter readings will be done next week as the corporation prepares to hand over the water system to local officials.

A Grassroots Water Grab in California
Santa Cruz Sentinel, July 29, 2008
The debate about water privatization is global, but many of the battles are local. One such struggle ended recently, when the mountain community of Felton, on California's central coast, won control of its water supply from California America Water, a unit of international conglomerate Rheinisch-Westfaelisches Elektrizitaetswerk.

This is a Flickr badge showing public photos and videos from feltonlocalwater.

Felton residents gather to celebrate waterworks purchase
Santa Cruz Sentinel, July 27, 2008
Residents celebrated the success of the grassroots organization Friends of Locally Owned Water in its fight to gain control of the town's waterworks from California American Water at its annual Water Independence Day party Saturday.

Go with the FLOWs
Good Times Weekly, July 10, 2008
The word “flow” has special meaning in parts of Santa Cruz County. Not only does it refer to the movement of water from source to tap, it also stands, in acronym form, for Friends of Locally Owned Water, and this summer, those friends have accomplished just that. In Felton, the six-year-long battle to regain control of its water system from international conglomerate Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE) finally prevailed in court via eminent domain proceedings, which were nipped in the bud by a settlement that will transfer ownership of the district to San Lorenzo Valley Water District (SLVWD) on Aug. 5.

Felton Water Bills Set to Drop Next Month, Overall Savings Still Not Determined
CalAm to Hand Over Felton Waterworks in Early August

Valley Post, July 1, 2008
CalAm has opened its doors and its books to the new owners of Felton's water system, providing the first detailed look inside the private company that for years fought off public ownership.

Calls Rise for Public Control of Water Supply
Wall Street Journal, June 17, 2008
FELTON, Calif. -- The faucets in one of six U.S. homes pour water provided by a private company. Now, some of these communities are revolting against their corporate water systems, attempting to put their water under government control because of concerns over rising rates and service disruptions.

Felton Prevails in Six-Year Fight to Acquire Water System from Cal-Am and RWE
Santa Cruz IndyMedia, June 9, 2008
The community of Felton prevailed in its six-year fight to acquire its water system from California-American Water (Cal-Am), a subsidiary of the German multinational corporation RWE. Cal-Am and the San Lorenzo Valley Water District (SLVWD) announced a purchase agreement on May 30th, less than a week before the planned start of an eminent domain trial where a jury would have set the value of the water system.

RWE muss Wasser lassen
Sechs Jahre haben die Feltoner gekämpft, um ihre Wasserversorgung wieder zu verstaatlichen. Mit Erfolg - die RWE-Tochter Cal Am muss nach einem Volksentscheid verkaufen

Taz.de, June 9, 2008
BERLIN -- Nach sechsjähriger Auseinandersetzung haben die Bürger der kalifornischen Kleinstadt Felton einen entscheidenden Sieg gegen RWE errungen. California American Water Co. (Cal-Am), ein Tochterunternehmen des deutschen Energiekonzerns wird sich aus der Wasserversorgung von Felton zurückziehen. Diese wird künftig wieder in staatlicher Hand liegen. Vergangene Woche stimmte der Vorstand des zuständigen Wasserbezirks einer zuvor ausgehandelten außergerichtlichen Einigung zu. Damit steht dem Rückkauf der privatisierten Wasserwerke für 10,5 Millionen Dollar durch die Kommune nichts mehr im Weg.

Rants and Raves: THE HERALD'S VIEW
The Monterey County Herald, June 8, 2008
Rave: The fine folks of Felton deserve a hand for spunk, persistence and foresight. Though everyone said it couldn't be done, they have reached agreement to take over the California American Water system in their mountain community. They persuaded Cal Am, with no little help from pending courtroom proceedings, to take $10 million for a system the utility said wasn't for sale. It isn't clear what, if anything, this means for the Peninsula, which has toyed with the takeover idea, but we suspect that rapidly rising water prices hereabouts will eventually generate renewed discussions.

Cal-Am settles over Felton water system
Press Banner, June 6, 2008
Five years after it began, the struggle for public ownership of Felton’s water system is likely over. The San Lorenzo Valley Water District settled with California American Water to buy the Felton water system for $10.5 million and assumption of the $2.9 million debt still owed on construction of the Kirby Street water treatment plant and other facilities.

Water district votes to buy Felton water
Santa Cruz Sentinel, June 5, 2008
The San Lorenzo Valley Water District board unanimously agreed Thursday to buy the Felton waterworks from California American Water for $10.5 million, thus finalizing a deal six years in the making.

Small Town Overthrows Corporate Giant for Control of Water
Alternet, June 5, 2008
The people of Felton, California learned that they had successfully wrested control of their water from the clutches of a giant corporation on Friday, May 30, 2008.

CalAm Agrees to Sell Felton Water System: San Lorenzo Valley Agrees to Up Price to $10.5 Million in Cash plus Assuming $2.9 Million in Debt
The Valley Post, June 5, 2008
California American Water (CalAm) has agreed to sell its Felton water subsidiary to the San Lorenzo Valley Water District for a cash price of $10.5 million. As part of the deal, the Valley water district will assume CalAm's debt of $2.9 million for the Kirby treatment plant and CalAm will donate watershed land that it purchased from Citizens Water.

Victory for FLOW
Metro Santa Cruz, June 5, 2008
It was a little like winning the Superbowl--if your team is undersized, chronically underfunded and just started playing ball six years ago. On Friday, a small group of Felton activists finally wrested control of their water system away from California-American Water after six years of bitter fighting--and for less than half Cal-Am's original asking price. The water system, which serves 1,330 customers, is now set to be handed over to the San Lorenzo Valley Water District (SLVWD) for $10.5 million, pending approval by the district's board of directors at its Thursday meeting.

California town succeeds in acquiring water system
Lexingtong Herald Leader, June 3, 2008
Felton, Calif., is about to do what Lexington couldn't -- gain public control of its water system.

Water Activists Slay Corporate Behemoth: Food & Water Watch Applauds Felton, CA’s Victory to Control Water Resources
Food & Water Watch press release, June 2, 2008
Washington, DC. After six years of political and legal battles, the town of Felton, California has prevailed in efforts to acquire its water system from California-American Water, which was until recently, a subsidiary of the German multi-national corporation RWE. The San Lorenzo Valley Water District will purchase the water system, which includes 250 acres of forested watershed land, for $10.5 million and take control of the $2.9 million loan residents have been paying for a new water treatment plant.

Cal Am agrees to sell Felton water system for $10.5M
Santa Cruz Sentinel, May 30, 2008
FELTON - California American Water has tentatively agreed to sell the Felton water system to the San Lorenzo Valley Water District for $10.5 million, signalling the likely end of a six-year David-and-Goliath fight between a grass-roots citizens group and the former multinational corporation over local control.

Breaking News: Cal-Am agrees to sell Felton system
Press Banner, May 30, 2008
San Lorenzo Valley Water District and California American Water Co. this afternoon announced an agreement to sell Cal-Am's Felton system to the water district. The agreement came on the eve of a scheduled June 2 eminent-domain trial.

BREAKING NEWS - Cal Am Agrees to Sell Felton Water System: San Lorenzo Valley Agrees to Up Price to $10.5 Million in Cash plus Assuming $2.9 Million in Debt
Valley Post, May 30, 2008
California American Water has agreed to sell its Felton water subsidiary to the San Lorenzo Valley Water District for a cash price of $10.5 million, plus continuing bond payments on a treatment facility and a conservation easement. Assuming the water district's board accepts the agreement at a June 5 meeting, the sale will successfully end many years of work by residents to break away from the for-profit, German-based corporation.



FELTON, California, May 30, 2008 -- The community of Felton, California today prevailed in its six-year fight to acquire its water system from California-American Water, a subsidiary of the German multinational corporation RWE.

Cal-Am and the San Lorenzo Valley Water District (SLVWD) announced a purchase agreement today, less than a week before the planned start of an eminent domain trial where a jury would  have set the value of the water system. SLVWD will make a total cash payment of $10.5 million to acquire the water system, including the 250 acres of forested watershed land, which Cal-Am is donating to SLVWD.  In addition, SLVWD will assume the $2.9 million loan that Felton residents have been paying for a new  treatment plant. 

"This is great victory for the the citizens of Felton and should inspire other communities to challenge private water utilities that are extorting huge, unjustified rate increases," said Jim Mosher, who heads up Felton FLOW's legal committee. "The SLV Water District has done an excellent job representing us and we look forward to having them manage the water system for us."

This is the latest in a series of setbacks for the private water utility. RWE announced in late 2005 that it planned to exit the water market and sell its U.S. holdings in American Water. They couldn't find a buyer, and instead opted for an initial public offering (IPO), which they postponed in November 2007 because of poor market conditions. Despite an even worse market they moved forward with the IPO last month. Shares sold at 10% less than RWE predicted and unenthusiastic buyers only picked up 36% of the expected 40% of shares in the company. RWE announced another stock sale earlier this week at a share price $1 lower than the IPO price.

"Cal-Am's 'donation' of the watershed property is a PR ploy that, in reality, gives them a chance to apply for a big tax break," said FLOW steering committee member Barbara Sprenger. "Felton residents were already paying for the bond for a new treatment plant, so Ca-Am's claims are, at best, disingenuous. The bottom line is that Felton residents will have local control of their water system and we won't be saddled with water bills that largely go to pay overhead expenses that do nothing for Felton."

The SLV Water District has agreed to accept restrictions on the Felton watershed property, which will prohibit development and commercial timber harvesting on the land. These restrictions are consistent with SLV Water District’s long-held management policies. Part of Cal-Am's valuation of the property was that they had the right to build large homes and commercially log the forested watershed land.

Felton FLOW will schedule a community meeting at the Felton firehouse to explain the settlement and what it means for residents. The announcement will be posted on the Felton FLOW website (http://www.feltonflow.org shortly.

Felton's water system has been privately owned since the late 1800s. American Water purchased Felton's water system in 2001 as part of its larger acquisition of Citizen's Utilities. Shortly after that acquisition, American Water was acquired by RWE. RWE announced in late 2005 that it was exiting the global water market because it hadn't generated the expected profits, it hadn't done "due diligence" before buying the company and because American Water had failed to maintain the water delivery infrastructure and the required investment would have taken 200 years to complete.

Click here for previous media coverage...

Conservation tips

FLOW urges all Felton water users to conserve water as much as possible. Our target is a water use reduction of 20% compared to use last year.

The rains so far have been insufficient to increase our water supplies. Continue to conserve water.

Help demonstrate that Felton can conserve water when needed, as we have done many times in the past. By conserving we will be helping to avoid construction of unneeded and expensive new wells. You can click on the Water Conservation Tips image to get more information from the San Lorenzo Valley Water District on how to conserve around your home.

Click here for previous FLOW updates