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FLOW member John Fasolas fields questions on water issues at a recent Migration Festival at Henry Cowell redwood Park.

About us

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 don’t like how the system is operating, we won’t 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 company’s 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.