FLOW asks Claremont residents to take action

As the battle over Claremont water begins to boil, a new group has sprung up to add its voice to the conversation. Say hello to Claremont FLOW—Friends of Locally Owned Water.

Uncomfortable with the thought of a life necessity being in the hands of a for-profit company, Claremont FLOW is calling on the citizens of Claremont to take a stand against Golden State Water Company (GSW).

With the support of local organizations such as Claremont Outrage, the League of Women Voters and Sustainable Claremont, this grassroots group is interested in gaining local control of the water system and supporting the city in that quest.

Their reasons for this are numerous.

According to FLOW, there are many benefits to local control. They believe city-owned water would eliminate the need to make a profit, allow residents to be involved in rate setting rather than the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and would eradicate regional rates that subsidize population growth in distant desert communities. The ownership change would allow the water system to be managed in the city’s best interest, not the interest of shareholders or highly-paid executives running, according to?FLOW members.

“We’ve done our research and we’re interested in getting out correct facts, distinguishing between what’s reality and what isn’t,” says Freeman Allen, director for sustainability with the League of Women Voters of the Claremont Area and a member of Claremont FLOW.

Mr. Allen was referring to the information put forth by Claremont Affordable Water Advocates (CAWA), a grassroots organization financially supported by Golden State Water that popped up in June when the group introduced a Memorandum of Understanding that they negotiated with GSW and was later rejected by city council.

Members of FLOW are unimpressed by the proposed 20-point MOU between Golden State Water Company and CAWA.

“To me, the MOU is almost meaningless,” says Mr. Allen. “It doesn’t offer anything substantial, which are the real issues. It seems like smoke and mirrors with numbers. With every point you read, there is nothing definite. I’m not at all surprised the city rejected it.”

Claremont FLOW is also interested in getting to the truth behind the water revenue bond ballot measure slated for the November election. In mailers, CAWA has regularly called the bond measure a “tax,” a statement of misinformation according to FLOW.

“We don’t know why they keep calling it a tax,” says Mr. Allen. “Revenue bonds are repaid using the money raised by the utility. It will not affect the city’s ability to borrow and it will not take money away from our schools. We’re heavily focused on the facts and we want people to know that those ads coming out from CAWA, those claims, are lies.”

He also points to a canvasser who recently came to his home, in hopes that he would sign their petition.

“I asked who was supporting her and she said ‘Donna Lowe’ (CAWA founder). She then added, ‘Did you know that the city was thinking of paying $135 million for the water system?’ When I asked what she meant by that, she then turned over a whole sheet of legalese and couldn’t explain it. These people obviously don’t know what they’re talking about.”

Section 104 of the Voting Code allows for registered voters who have unwittingly signed a ballot measure petition to have their name removed. The request should include the name and address of the voter, as well as the signature in the same form it was signed on the initiative. FLOW organizers recommend written requests be mailed as soon as possible to the Claremont City Clerk at 207 Harvard Ave., Claremont, CA 91711. The written document may also be dropped off at City Hall. For more information, contact the City Clerk’s Office at (909) 399-5460.

Unlike CAWA, which receives the bulk of its funding from GSW, Claremont FLOW is totally funded by donations from Claremont residents who, according to the group’s website, are “tired of being run over roughshod by Golden State Water.”

At a recent fundraiser launching the group’s efforts, 50-plus supporters gathered with many opening up their wallets to offer their financial support.

“We had a pretty good turn-out with limited space available and we received a reasonable amount of donations, although nothing like the million dollars Golden State Water (GSW) is putting into this,” Mr. Allen said.

As Claremont FLOW continues to grow, its members urge those in agreement with the issuance of revenue bonds to visit www.claremontflow.org to find out more about what they can do to support the potential acquisition of the Claremont water system.

“I’m more interested in the long-range future than the immediate cost of my water bill,” says Mr. Allen. “It is such a hot international commodity, some international company will buy out Golden State Water or their parent company American States Water and we would lose even more control. People need to focus on the long-term and how critical water is going to be, and decide whether or not you want to have a say on a monopoly that could be bought by a cartel.”

—Angela Bailey



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