Monterey County

Group Celebrates Victory Over Water Issues on the Ballot, But it May be Premature

MONTEREY, Calif - Coming off the driest year on record, we are dealing with a sever lack of water here on the central coast. While the water debate rages on with who should be in charge of fixing the problem, the decision could be yours.

A grass roots campaign called Public Water Now received more than the 8000 signatures it needed to get this question on the ballot: Should the regional water supply project be run privately, or publicly?

The group's celebration party is Wednesday night and is technically premature, but they say it's not too early because they are confident this issue will be on the June ballot.

One mass e-mail was sent out on Sunday afternoon, and with bold letters outlined a celebration for Public Water Now qualifying for the June Ballot, but they haven't won just yet.

"We are absolutely confident because before we turned in the petitions we crossed out all suspicious names ourselves, and verified far more names than are needed for the ballot, so we are very confident," says Ron Cohen of Public Water now.

The Taxpayers Association, which has campaigned against a public water project three times before says its way too early for a victory dance.

"Well generally you don't want to count your chickens before you eggs hatch. I feel strongly it would be a financial disaster, and people would regret the day it happens," said Rick Huerer.

The Monterey County Registrar won't even comment on where it is in the verifying process. The Water Management District opted for a random sample count. That means 500 signatures will be verified. If more than 110% of the signatures are verified, a full count isn't needed. If there are less than 95% its considered an insufficient number of valid signatures, and if its in between those percentages there will be a full count of all the signatures.

This time Public Water Now says the fourth time will be the charm to get a public project voted through.

California American Water said they have not started a campaign yet, and is just waiting to see if the measure makes the ballot.

The registrar should have a result in about two weeks time.

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