A new problem with Cal-Ams repair work on Highway 9 required
a pump to remove water, resulting in flooding and traffic diversion
recently. A Cal-Am crew was continuing workon the problem up until
two hours before a PUC hearing in Felton.
NOTE: Felton Water History information 1868 to 1961 taken
from The Old Felton Times, no. 1, 2/2005 and online data from
historian R. Brown.
1868 Felton town plan filed; water from Bull Creek
is provided at no charge to residents courtesy of the Stanly family.
1888/1889 After a fire which destroyed much of
Felton, townspeople agree to incorporate the water system in order
to better manage it. Their goal was to "hold, in trust, the
water works of Felton, for the use and benefit of that village
forever." The plan became a for profit corporation although
the water was still free. F.A. Hihn, owner of much of Feltons
undeveloped land, played an organizing role. Stockholders provided
money for pipelines, hydrants, flumes, and other items, and maintenance.
Public interest was protected by a requirement that stockholders
be local residents and by the corporations term limit of
fifty years Felton residents would have the right to start
over if the corporation failed in its duties.
1917 Felton has lost much of its population and
1923 Felton water system is purchased by George
Fetherston and R.L. Young as speculation in the housing development
plan for Felton Acres.
1933 Feltons water system fully owned by
Florence and George Fetherston and reorganized as the Felton Water
1961 Florence Fetherston sells the Felton Water
Company to Citizen Utilities of California, a subsidiary, for
$200,000; Citizen Utilities served 800 local customers with a
Boulder Creek office and no rate increase.
~1965 All facilities except the Felton District
are acquired through public acquisition with ownership passing
January American Water Works Company, Inc.
acquires all of Citizens Utilities, including the Felton Water District,
and pays 67% over book value. American Water Works owns California
American (Cal Am) who operates the Felton Water District.
January 28 Shortly after American Water Works
announced its acquisition of Citizens Utilities, the London-based
company Thames Water Plc announced plans to acquire American Water
and its subsidiaries. Thames is a division of RWE Aktiengesellschaft
(RWE), the third largest for-profit water provider in the world.
September/October A notice of application to merge
Cal Am and RWE (required by the PUC) is sent to our District Attorney's
office. Cal Am/RWE says this is the address on their list. However
a notice is supposed to be sent to the County's Office of County
Counsel and isn't.
October 1 Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors
objects to proposed rate increases by Cal Am and votes unanimously
to ask the PUC to hold a rate hike hearing in Felton plus to investigate
a possible ban on exportation of drinking water. The Board also
files a Motion to Intervene in the RWE Acquisition Case.
October 17 Jeff Almquist holds a town meeting;
approximately 150 Felton residents ask for the San Lorenzo Valley
Water District to have control of Cal Am. Almquist reports an "overwhelming
response from the public in support of local control."
October/November Public meetings held; More
than 175 formal letters are written. A petition garners more than
1,200 signatures to protest the rate increase and demand that SLVWD
be allowed to take control of the Felton Water District.
November 20 Cal-Am applies to the California
Public Utilities Commission, proposing a 74% rate increase for Felton
and consolidation of the Felton and Monterey water districts. The
average increases proposed for 2003 would be 56.62%, in 2004: 8.83%,
and in 2005: 2.29%.
American Water Works reports a 25% jump in income for the third
quarter of 2002; its common stock share price increases 9.9% over
November 21 FLOW meets to select officers.
Weekly planning meetings held at the Felton Firehouse start.
December 19 PUC gives approval for RWE to
purchase American Water Works. Cal Am, owner of our water system,
is one of American Water Works' subsidiaries. American Water Works
owns water systems in 26 other states and three Canadian providences.
RWE will control water service for 2.6 million North American customers.
RWE ordered to sell Montara's water district to Montara within 90
days of taking control of American Water Works.
January 10 RWE takes control of Cal Am/ RWE.
January 29 Two public PUC meetings concerning
the proposed rate hike are held at the Felton Community Hall. Evening
meeting attendance overflows hall.
March 7 Local Agency Formation Commission
(LAFCO) receives application to add Felton to SLVWD's sphere of
influence. Acceptance would allow the San Lorenzo Valley Water District
to operate Felton’s water system, if acquired.
March 26 Jeff Almquist delivers 13 pages
of prepared testimony to the PUC against the rate increase.
April 29 Santa Cruz County ask the PUC to
suspend proceedings on rate increases. Jeff Almquist's office states
that Cal Am's rate proposal doesn't include the pass-down savings
required by the PUC at time of purchase.
September 3 LAFCO approves Sphere of Influence
by unanimous vote.
September 9 Cal Am sends notice to county
that it is seeking to establish a "memorandum account"
with the purpose of tracking expenses for securing water systems
from terrorist attack.
October 8 Jeff Almquist leaves 5th District
Supervisor position to become Superior Court Judge - ending his
leadership role in FLOW.
December PUC denies a challenge and requested
suspension of Cal Am's rate increase application.
December 18 FLOW meeting "Where We are
Now" at Felton Firehouse to bring ratepayers up to date.
January Cal Am/ RWE sends out flyer "Will
County Supervisors Raise Your Taxes?". Cal- Am/ RWE phone survey
done concerning supervisor race, SLVWD, FLOW
February 4 FLOW meeting “Volunteer
Organization ” at the Felton Firehouse.
February 11 FLOW planning meeting: resumption
of regularly scheduled bi-weekly planning meetings.
February 25 Final arguments concerning rate
increase placed before the PUC. FLOW steering committee members
attend and speak. Decision due in mid-March.
May 6 CPUC rules in favor of a 44% rate increase
for Felton ratepayers. Rate increases start immediately though residents
will not have to pay them until the CPUC approves or modifies a
consolidation plan from Cal Am. The amount due from the rate increase
is being tracked by Cal Am in a balancing account. By the end of
2004, the amount due was about $125,000.
June 8 Public Citizen attends the Wall Street Conference
on Investing in the Water Industry (incognito). They report that
the mood was gleeful and that investors felt "water is under-priced"
and "rates have room to rise" although some states are
"inhospitable" such as New York, Connecticut, and Kentucky.
Others unfavorable sites include New Hampshire which has taken back
control of their water to protect it from "being controlled
by foreign interests" and parts of Florida which has done the
same to protect their retirees from rate increases.
July 10 FLOW starts their summer outdoor movie series
with "Thirst", a documentary about the commodification
of the worlds water and community resistance in Bolivia, India,
and Stockton, CA.
July 12 FLOWs first mailer with a letter, How
You Can Help flyer, and fact sheet.
July 15 FLOW turns in 1,305 signatures to the County
Elections department asking that a Community Facilities District
be established so that the community can vote on whether or not
to set a bond for buying our water system. Cal Am/ RWEs response
is to ask for a copy of the petitions. (Denied.)
August 2 Cal Am/RWE invites certain members of the
community to the San Lorenzo Valley Senior Center to learn about
government takeovers from the California Taxpayer Association. Cal
Am/Rwe is a member of that association.
August 3 Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors consider
petitions requesting establishment of a Community Facilities District
to acquire the water system which serves the Felton area and take
related actions. 4-0 decision in favor. "Water shouldnt
be in the hands of a private company," said Supervisor Jan
Beautz. Gary Patton says the proceedings "highlight how concerned
local citizens can use the tools of government directly to assert
control over important aspects of their lives."
August 5 Santa Cruz Sentinel reporter Jondi Gumz
reports that Cal Am/RWE gave a grant to the San Lorenzo Property
Owners Association; one of the items produced was a glossy 8.5 x
11 mailer showing a $100 bill in flames. Nothing in the mailer discusses
water rate increases.
August 11 Cal Am/RWE applies to the CPUC to combine
the Monterey and Felton water districts. Comments from a 9/4/04
Monterey Herald on this matter include Monterey County Supervisor
Dave Potter: "I can only look to other places where Cal-Am
has come in and done water projects, and every single one of them
has been balanced on the back of the ratepayers." Santa Cruz
County Supervisor Mark Stone: "with this desalination plant,
the more you can combine [the systems] the more you can hide inefficiencies."
Cal Am/ RWE spokesperson Kevin Tilden is quoted as saying that "Cal-Am
got off on the wrong foot with Felton residents, hitting them with
a one-two-three punch and then failing to present an effective information
campaign to ease their pain." Cal Am/ RWE used a hypothetical
standard rate design instead of the Peninsulas tiered rate
structure in its application.
August 25 Leak in Monterey water district takes three
phone calls, five days, to fix; other problems include well failure
resulting in an order to boil water "for a few days" and
a tank over flow (17 hours, 50,000 gallons of water, landslide into
the Carmel River).
September 1 Valley Press publishes the first in a
fourteen week series of questions posed to FLOW and Cal Am/ RWE.
September 11 FLOW Community Barbeque music
provided by the Redwood Rounders and Ukenasia; silent auction and
September 23 FLOW presents the documentary "Thirst"
at the Rio Theater with a six speaker panel following the video.
October 13 FLOW presents public meeting at the Felton
Firehouse with speakers including board members of the San Lorenzo
Valley Water District, Montara Water and Sanitary District, FLOW,
Supervisor Mark Stone, Tod Landis.
October 14 FLOW presents public meeting at the Boulder
Creek Firehouse with the documentary "Thirst" and a question
and answer period.
October 20 Cal Am/ RWE starts work on the water main
on Highway 9 between Graham Hill Road and San Lorenzo Way. (Project
is still ongoing as of May 1, 2005.)
October 28 New Leaf Market supports FLOW with Community
November 2 Round Table Pizza supports FLOW with a
Benefit Pizza Night.
November 13 FLOW benefit dinner with Chef Jozeph
Shultz at the Felton Community Hall and served by the SLVHS Key
Club. Island Breeze and their dance troupe appeared,we held drawing
for a catered Joze dinner. Our thanks go out to Melani Hubbard of
The Party Helpers, Bonny Doon Vineyards, and Zayante Vineyards.
November 22 FLOWs second mailer with newsletter
and newspaper articles.
December 6 Cal Am files a request with the CPUC for
another 64% rate increase for Felton ratepayers, bringing the proposed
total rate increase to 108%.
December 7/8 CPUC comes to Monterey and Felton to
gather public comment on the proposed consolidation between the
Monterey and Felton water districts. Monterey customers object to
paying more to subsidize Felton rates; both sets of customers recognize
the effort as an attempt to diffuse FLOWs efforts to buy the
company. Felton customers report repair problems and that Monterey
crews and contracted companies are already doing work in Felton.
The new proposed rate to more than double Cal Am/ RWE Felton revenue
by 2006 becomes public knowledge. Santa Cruz County, the Monterey
Peninsula Water Management District, FLOW, and the Office of Ratepayer
Advocates protest the proposed merger.
December 8 Tod Landis files for FLOW Intervenor Status.
He testifies at the CPUC with "customer accounts of their experiences,
letters by California American Water Company executives, and evidence
obtained by discovery to show that managing the Felton water district
from Monterey caused serious problems. Work crews were inadequately
supervised. Customers who should have been boiling their water weren't
warned to do so. Road repairs were shoddy and hazardous." Tod
says, "We want legal representation during the evidentiary
hearing part of these proceedings. We have learned that a corporation's
legal team prevented another citizens' group from introducing evidence,
and we are concerned that the same thing will happen to FLOW. We
have a story to tell that will not be heard if CalAm's high-priced
lawyers can block us."
December 15 CPUC grants FLOW intervenor status to
comment on Cal Am consolidation and seek reimbursement for some
legal expenses. The CPUC's intervenor compensation program provides
compensation for reasonable costs as a result of participation in
formal CPUC proceedings by citizens or small groups whose economic
gain is small in comparison to the cost of making their voice heard.
It is intended to ensure that the CPUC is aware of concerns and
interests of a broad spectrum of interests.
December 22 Cal Am/ RWE tries to block testimony
by FLOW and the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District by
filing a "motion to strike" portions of PUC testimony
by representatives of these two groups; this testimony includes
five pages of Felton service problems.
January Cal Am/ RWE sends out two mailers purporting
to show Montaras dissatisfaction since they gained control
of their water system. Montara Water and Sanitary District President
Kathryn Slater-Carter and President pro tem Scott Boyd reject these
claims pointing to the community celebration held to commemorate
the one year anniversary of public water ownership and a stop to
the endless cycle of rate increases and system neglect. President
Slater-Carter adds that all board members up for re-election after
the first bond payment were voted back in!
January 5 FLOW participates in CPUC hearing in San
Francisco. A CPUC Administrative Law Judge denies Cal Am/ RWE's
motion to strike FLOW's testimony against the company. He also instructed
Cal Am/ RWE to file an amended application to consolidate the Felton
and Monterey districts to correct errors made by Cal Am in its original
filing and to include the effects of CalAm's latest rate increase
January 6 Chemical spill at Cal Am/ RWE Kirby St.
Felton Plant. Employees run down the hill to the
Felton Fire Department. The County Environmental Health Department
recommended the need to label chemical containers. Unanswered questions
include the role and training of the employee who was transferring
chemicals. Typically, certified operators handle chemicals in a
water treatment plant to protect both the worker and the public.
February 9 League of Women Voters of the Monterey
Peninsula sponsors the program "Who Should Own Our Water Distribution
February 11 Sadza and FLOW present a benefit concert/
dance of marimba and mbira music with homemade desserts, India Joze
chai, and White Raven coffee.
February 12 FLOW talks about water at the Migration
Festival at Henry Cowell Park.
February 16 Cal Am/ RWE officially files the revenue
rate increase of approximately 105% that was proposed in early December.
January 19 FLOW, by invitation, addresses the Quaker
group Santa Cruz Friends to discuss Feltons water situation
and water privatization.
February 22 Assembly Bill 1397 is introduced into
the California Legislature. California Water Association President
Palle Jensen later confirms that Cal Am/ RWE played a role in drafting
this legislation - the intent of which is to further change the
structure of the eminent domain process. (Until 1992, state law
held that there was an absolute presumption that a public taking
of a private utility was in the public's best interest. In 1992,
because of efforts by the California Water Association, the law
was changed to a "rebuttable" presumption, meaning the
private utility could challenge it. Lobbyist Margaret Catzen-Brown,
representing the Water Association and with a record of lobbying
for Cal Am/RWE, was instrumental in bringing the bill to the attention
of assembly members.
February 24 The American Association of University
Women of Watsonville present "Who Owns Your Water?" with
guest speakers from FLOW, Soquel Creek Water District, and Pajaro
Valley Water Management Agency.
March 3 An overflow crowd witnesses the San Lorenzo
Valley Water District Board approve a Joint Community Facilities
Agreement between the County of Santa Cruz and the SLVWD. This document
allows the Cal Am/RWE Felton Water District to become part of the
SLVWD in the event it is acquired by the Felton water customers;
the Agreement lists responsibilities and ground rules concerning
the acquisition of the district and Feltons new partnership
March 15 A Resolution of Intent to Establish Community
Facilities District 1is presented to the Santa Cruz County Board
of Supervisors and passed. These sets the stage for the last public
hearing before a vote on the bond indebtedness allowing purchase
of the Cal Am/RWE Felton Water District can take place.
March 21 A consortium of civil society groups urges
the European Union to stop its efforts in "attracting the private
sector into water and sanitation, including [the use of] various
financial instruments to guarantee corporate profits." The
consortium is appealing now because "its become obvious
that private water companies are not the people to deliver water
to the poor."
March 24 FLOW speaks at the Green Words and Music
event held at the Union Coffee House.
March 29 A concerned Felton resident, experiencing
a cutoff water supply, investigates the water main break near his
house; Cal Am/ RWE claims that he is harassing them and calls the
police. The resident explains that there wasn't a problem until
he started taking pictures and Cal Am/RWE realized he wasnt
from the Santa Cruz Sentinel.
April 1 FLOW sponsors a poetry contest with the theme
"Poems about Water".
April 26 Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors hold
a public hearing in Felton to determine approval for an election
specific to the Cal Am/RWE Felton Water District. In spite of Cal
Am/ RWE efforts to incite public opinion against the proposed Mello-Roos
District vote with a 23 page mailed letter, a postcard, and a door
hanger, the crowd of more than 200 give a standing ovation at the
unanimous board decision to proceed with the vote. One of the many
highlights of the evening was when the directors of the Montara
Water & Sanitary District spoke to the crowd, challenging the
idea that their rate payers were unhappy; the directors pridefully
pointed to the numerous new improvements they have made to their
Early May Measure W is created! We can vote for Local
Control! Lower Rates! Local Accountability! Yes on Measure W! The
ballot is placed on votescount.com with deadlines for arguments
May 11 Felton resident Patrick Dugan files a lawsuit
against the signers of the Measure W ballot argument concerning
the wording of the voter pamphlet. Jim Mosher, chair of the FLOW
legal team, says, "We consider this lawsuit a harassment tactic
by Cal-Am. We have sought out the best legal talent available to
defend ourselves, and we expect to be vindicated. We are determined
to move forward."
May 13 The California Public Utilities Commission
comes once again to Felton for two sessions concerning public opinion
on Cal Am/RWEs latest proposed rate increase: 105.2% 2006,
plus 3.44% in 2007, and 1.03% in 2008 in addition to "two Special
Requests". In response to Cal Am/RWEs plea for more communication,
ratepayers ask for more response to problems with service.
May 14 The Great FLOW Yard Sale takes place greatly
benefiting the FLOW campaign, Yes on Measure W. Thank you community
donators and buyers!
May 17 Seniors for Measure W hold a public meeting
to answer questions about Measure W.
May 18 Day One in Court: FLOW is ably represented
by our legal team with attorneys Herman Fitzgerald and Randy Riddle
concerning the lawsuit brought against the signers of the Measure
W ballot argument concerning the wording of the voter pamphlet.
Case postponed to June 6th. Cal Am/RWE representatives are in the
May 20 A report by Monterey Herald Staff writer Virginia
Hennessey reveals that, contrary to the company's denials, state
records show California American Water lobbied on Senate Bill 149
(2003), the legislation that would have dissolved Cal Am/RWE's only
local regulator. This failed bill, backed by former Sen. Bruce McPherson,
would replace the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District's
elected board of directors with a panel of area mayors. Cal Am also
donated $10,000 to Measure B (Monterey, 2002), an advisory measure
that passed, calling for the district's demise.
May 21 La Bruschetta with Chef Luca Rubino and FLOW
present an Italian Barbecue and Buffet to benefit FLOW. Live music
provided by Michael Renwick and Rory Koshlaychuk.
May 23 "Poems About Water" contest entries
are presented by the poets and others in a reading at the Felton
Community Hall. Congratulations to all entrants who celebrate the
importance of water and art in our lives.
May 28 Felton Remembers Parade: FLOW supporters walk
in the parade with the FLOW Drill Team and Frank Adamson riding
in a bathtub.
May 28 Yes on Measure W signs sprout all over Felton!
July Felton citizens pass Measure W, allocating up
to $11 million to purchase the Felton waterworks from Cal-Am.
August The PUC adminstrative law judge recommends
denying Cal-Am's proposal to merge the Felton and Monterey water
districts. He also recommended that Cal-Am implement a 30% rate
hike into water bills and that the remainder of the already-approved
44% rate hike be rolled into the 114% rate hike proposal. The PUC
will vote on the administrative law judge's recommendation in the