After a moratorium on new water connections that has been in effect for several decades in the towns of Moss Beach and Montara, the local water utility (Montara Water and Sanitary District) is finally in a position to start issuing water connections again and begin the process of converting all the homes and lots that are currently being serviced by domestic water wells. The reasons that MWSD is now able to do this is because of a conscientious public that has been practicing conservation, plus the additional water from their new Alta Vista well.
So, how is this going to work and how much is this going to cost? I spoke to Clemens Heldmaier, the district's general manager, and he tried to explain the process of how this will be implemented.
There are basically two groups of people who can apply. One is current homes on wells and the other consists of vacant land owners. MWSD is not a big organization so it is trying to implement these new requests using existing staff.
Heldmaier estimates that there are approximately 300 homes on wells today. Water managers are hoping to handle around 20 new connections a year, so it's going to take many years to complete the roll out.
The same goes for vacant landowners - about 20 connections a year. As far as lots go, demand for them has dried up over the years because of tight financing. So, the good news is there probably won't be a stampede descending on the district trying to snap up a tight supply.
Many of the homes and lots carry a requirement to convert to public water when it is available. For several years, when wells first became available, this wasn't done. But, to be sure, you should look at your title report or get a copy of your actual grant deed from the county. If your deed has this restriction, then you must convert. Again, MWSD seems to be taking the go-slow approach because of staffing.
But knowing the coast the way I do, my advice is very simple. Take the connections while you can before they are gone. This is particularly true for vacant landowners because wells are now banned by the county so municipal water is the only option. If the surplus water mysteriously disappears as quickly as it appeared, landowners are going to be the first victims. Then the wait for the county to begin issuing well permits could be long.
OK, so what is this water connection going to cost? Figure around $14,000 for the standard 5/8-inch connection. By the way, there will be an additional cost for bringing the water from the street to your home as well as disconnecting the well plumbing. This may even free up some additional space in your backyard because you won't need the filters and storage tanks anymore. I know it may be hard to part with those works of art, but perhaps you can find some other use for that space.
I'm sure another question on many residents' mind is what is MWSD going to do with the revenue from hundreds of connections. Sorry to say, but it won't be lowering your water bills, according to MWSD. I also hope its not going to buy a fleet of new Mercedes. (That's a joke). Actually, the purpose is to use these funds to repair and expand the infrastructure to provide better service.
One of the things you should consider when switching from your well to municipal water is to keep your well operating so that you can use it for landscaping irrigation. I remember when CCWD added connections many moons ago, some people actually destroyed their wells by filling them with concrete. The benefits of keeping your well operating are that your water bill will be less and perhaps surplus capacity will allow MWSD to serve more homes since the consumption remains low. To me this is a win-win for everyone.
Steven Hyman is the broker and owner of Century 21 Sunset Properties. He can be reached at 726-6346 or at www.century21sunset.com