Coastal Commission approves MWSD public works plan

Press release

By on Fri, November 14, 2008

The Montara / Moss Beach community is one big step closer to solutions for its long-standing water problems following Coastal Commission approval Wednesday of the Public Works Plan, Phase I, proposed by Montara Water and Sanitary District in January 2006. The approved plan includes the new Alta Vista Well, bringing 150 gallons per minute of safe and reliable water to meet community needs; an additional 1,100,000 gallons of water storage for emergencies; and additional treatment for water drawn from wells at the Half Moon Bay Airport.

The Alta Vista Well was commissioned in October 2007 and has been supplying high-quality water to Montara and Moss Beach customers during an environmental testing period required by the Coastal Commission. Based on those studies, which showed no adverse affects on nearby wetlands and riparian areas, the District may use this new well to provide reliable supplies that meet the needs of existing customers in the District.

According to the Coastal Commission staff report, "The objective of the District’s Public Works Plan Phase I is to improve specific portions of the District’s water system to ensure an adequate and reliable water supply for existing domestic and fire protection uses. The proposed improvements are not intended to, nor would they accommodate, expanded existing connections or new connections to the system. In addition, according to the District, the improvements would not enable it to ease or lift the existing moratorium on new water service connections in Montara."

MWSD has made extensive improvements to the local water system since acquiring it for the community’s benefit in August 2003 from California American Water Company. Citizens Utilities Company of California, which had failed to meet mandated water supply goals for over two decades, transferred ownership to Cal-Am shortly before the MWSD acquisition was completed.

In the five years of public ownership, MWSD has improved the yield of existing wells, added new water treatment, reduced water loss through leaking mains, installed solar panels for power production, improved operating efficiency, and explored for new water supply sources. During the past two summers, there have been no water use restrictions - a big change from the annual notices customers of CUCC had grown accustomed to receiving.

The Montara / Moss Beach community overwhelmingly approved a bond measure in 2001 to fund essential improvements to bring the former CUCC water system up to modern standards. "Commission approval of our Public Works Plan allows the District to complete the projects that were promised to the community to meet their existing water needs reliably at fair costs," said MWSD Board President Paul Perkovic. "The District has achieved in five years what Citizens Utilities could not achieve in 25 years. For the first time, Montara and Moss Beach can feel safe going into a statewide drought."