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AB 1397 Would Rescind Eminent Domain Powers of Municipal Water Districts

California American Water Co., a subsidiary of the German multinational RWE, has helped introduce AB 1397 (Arambula) into the California legislature. The proposed legislation would drastically change the rules regarding eminent domain as it applies to private water companies. Its purpose is to protect Cal Am and other private water companies from communities seeking public ownership of their water resources.

Felton, California is one such community. Its water works were recently purchased by Cal Am/RWE. Felton’s residents, dismayed by Cal Am/RWE’s poor service and spiking rate increases, have organized a grassroots campaign to take over its water works. The campaign is on the verge of success, as residents will be voting on a bond measure this summer to provide the funds for purchasing the system from Cal Am/RWE.

AB 1397, if enacted, would defeat efforts such as those in Felton. Public purchases of private water companies can only occur if the public authorities have the power to exercise eminent domain. Current law allows eminent domain to be used if it is shown to be the public interest. Under AB 1397, the public essentially loses this power.

Assemblymember Arambula’s office, facing an outcry of protest, has promised to amend AB 1397. However, an amendment will not change the basic premise of the bill – that Cal Am/RWE and other private water companies deserve at least some protection from eminent domain. Current law already provides adequate protection to multinational water companies. The State Legislature should be supporting community campaigns against foreign takeovers of local water resources.

Private multinationals view water as the 21 Century’s "blue gold", a source of huge profits as water resources become scarce. Join the world wide resistance to water privatization.

Help defeat Cal Am/RWE’s blatant special legislation. Thanks to all who wrote letters to Assemblymember Arambula. Now let the Judicial Committee of the California Assembly know you oppose AB 1397 and any change to current eminent domain law. Urge the committee to reject this ill-advised bill.

Addresses and Talking Points for Letter in Opposition:

For citizens and organizations residing in a district represented by an Assemblymember who sits on the Judiciary Committee: Address and send letter to your Assemblyperson, cc. Dave Jones, Chair, Judiciary Committee. For others: Address and send letter to:

Assemblymember Dave Jones
Chair, Judiciary Committee
State Capitol, Room 3126
Sacramento 94249-0009
Phone (916) 319-2009. Fax (916) 319-2109.

Please e-mail a copy of your letter to: feltonflow@aol.com . We would appreciate it if your letter wouldadrss the following issues:

  1. Express strong opposition to the AB 1397.
    State that the bill should be defeated even if amended. Eminent domain law regarding private water companies is fair and should not be changed.
  2. State that AB 1397 will essentially rescind the eminent domain powers of public water districts.
  3. Note that current law provides adequate protections to private water companies facing eminent domain proceedings.
  4. State that bill is unnecessary and a giveaway to private water companies seeking control of California’s precious water resources.
  5. Note that California American Water Co. is a strong supporter of AB 1397 and that Cal Am is a division of RWE, a German multinational and the third largest water company in the world.
  6. Note that Cal Am and other multinational corporations have identified water as the "blue gold" of the 21st Century, a source of huge profits as water become scarce. Cal Am is aggressively seeking the takeover of water resources across California.
  7. Note that numerous communities (including Felton, CA, if you are from Felton) are resisting Cal Am’s tactics and are pursuing campaigns to buy back their water works from this corporate giant.
  8. Note that one reason why communities are engaging in these campaigns is Cal Am’s record of poor service, escalating rates, and poor response to community concerns.
  9. Urge the Judiciary Committee to assist these grassroots efforts and help resist the privatization of California’s water resources by foreign multinationals.

Note: Faxed or mailed letters are preferable to e-mails and telephone calls, but any contact voicing opposition is helpful.

Judicial Committee Members (Party, District Number)

Dave Jones, Chair Dem-9
Tom Harman, Vice Chair Rep-67
Noreen Evans Dem-7
Ray Haynes Rep-66
John Laird Dem-27
Tim Leslie Rep-4
Lloyd E. Levine Dem-40
Sally J. Lieber Dem-22
Cindy Montañez Dem-39

District 9 Dave Jones (Dem.) CHAIR
Cities: Sacramento
Capitol Office: State Capitol, Room 3126; Sacramento 94249-0009. Phone (916) 319-2009. Fax (916) 319-2109.
Email: Assemblymember.jones@assembly.ca.gov

District 7 Noreen Evans (Dem).
Cities: Vallejo, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Calistoga, Roseland, Yountville, Napa
District Office: 50 D Street, Suite 301, Santa rose, CA 9540. Phone: (707) 546-4500 Fax: (707) 546-9031.
Email her from this link.

District 66 Ray Haynes (Rep.)
Cities: Riverside, Temecula, Murrieta, Lake Elsinore
Capitol Office: State Capitol Room 4158; Sacramento, CA 94249-0066. Phone: (916) 319-2066 Fax: (916) 319-2166
Email: Assemblymember.haynes@assembly.ca.gov

District 67 Tom Harman (Rep.)
Cities: Huntington Beach, Anaheim, Cypress, Westminster, Seal Beach, Garden Grove, La Palma, Los Alamitos, Stanton.
Capitol Office: P.O. Box 942849 Sacramento, CA 94249-0067. Phone: (916) 319-2067 Fax: (916) 319-2167
Email: Assemblymember.Harman@assembly.ca.gov

District 40 John Laird (Dem)
Cities: Santa Cruz, Monterey, Scotts Valley, Aptos, Morgan Hill, Carmel
Capitol Office: State Capitol, Room 5160, Sacramento, CA 95814 Phone: (916) 319-2027
Fax: (916) 319-2127

District 4 Tim Leslie (Rep.)
Cities: Roseville, Rocklin, South Lake Tahoe, Auburn, Placerville, Lincoln, Markleeville, Rio Linda, Georgetown, Antelope, Loomis.
Capitol Office: State Capitol Room 4164; Sacramento, CA 94249-0004.
Phone: (916) 319-2004 Fax: (916) 319-2104
Email: Assemblymember.Leslie@assembly.ca.gov

District 40 Lloyd E. Levine (Dem.)
Cities: Los Angeles, including Van Nuys, Northridge, Canoga Park, West Hills.
Capitol Office: State Capitol Room 5136 Sacramento, CA 94249-0040.
Phone: (916) 319-2040 Fax: (916) 319-2141
Email: Assemblymember.levine@assembly.ca.gov

District 22 Sally J. Lieber (Dem)
Cities: San Jose, Santa Clara, Mountain View, Cupertino.
Capitol Office: State Capitol Room 3091; P.O. Box 942849 Sacramento, CA 94249-0022 Phone: (916) 319-2022 Fax: (916) 319-2122
Email: Assemblywoman.lieber@assembly.ca.gov

District 39 Cindy Montanez (Dem)
Cities: (San Fernando Valley, between I-405 and I-210) parts of Los Angeles, San Fernando, Panorama City, and Pacoima. (Two freeways, I-405 and I-210, bracket this San Fernando Valley district.)
Capitol Office: State Capitol, Room 3013; P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0039. Phone: (916) 319-2039. Fax: (916) 319-2139.
Email: Assemblymember.montanez@assembly.ca.gov