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Water Issues & Actions

Few issues are more important to Monterey County than water. LandWatch is working to make sure that future development doesn't lead to continued water overdraft, and that adequate water supplies are assured before development proceeds.

There are several water issues we are tracking, use the links below to find the project:

Monterey County Water Issues

Water Conservation Order Extended
In May, Governor Brown extended the short-term water conservation Executive Order. Yesterday, forecasters reviewed the weather models for California. It appears we are in for another year of drought along with extremely hot summer days.  (05.10.16)

Water Conservation Improves in Monterey County
Monterey County residents meet and in some places exceed water conservation requirements. Locally, our biggest cities ranged from 9-18% reductions--12% was required. Statewide 23.9% was achieved and 25% was mandated. Keep up the great work! (04.06.16)

More Water Goes to SLO from Lake Naciemento
San Luis Obispo communities voted to withdraw their max shares of water from Lake Naciemento. The water can be used to reduce reliance on things like groundwater and extend existing supplies for future use (like during times of drought). (03.17.16)

South County Reservoirs Struggling Still
While other reservoirs are filling up with the recent rains, those in South Monterey County are still in dire need of water. Lake Naciemento is only at 33% capacity. The lake releases water each day to prevent groundwater pumping over the summer and fall, but without water the releases have not occurred. (03.15.16)

Rain in North, Not in South, Impacts Groundwater
Years ago, Monterey County wisely built two reservoirs to collect winter rains and recharge the Salinas Valley Groundwater Basin in the summer. Both the San Antonio and Nacimiento dams are owned and operated by the Monterey County Water Resources Agency. The reservoirs started out the rainy season extraordinarily low due to the drought. The Salinas Valley Groundwater Basin has not been recharged since 2013. (02.11.16)

Subsidence Due to Crop Irrigation
This is a great article on groundwater and subsidence issues. The land subsides when too much groundwater is removed, this subsidence (sinking) damages infrastructure too--even infrastructure meant to carry water can be impacted. Specific crops like vineyards seem to have taken a toll on the groundwater availability, as do other water intensive crops. Residents note that multiple wells have gone dry and this is only exacerbated by the historic drought. (12.10.15)

Groundwater Regulations Signed into Law
While the phrase “local control” seemed to fit decades ago for monitoring groundwater resources, locals are now wondering now to fund and manage an agency to review local groundwater issues.  Governor Brown just signed into law the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which creates safeguards and manages California’s groundwater.  (09.16.15)

Water Needs Include $20+ Million Fix
This week the Monterey County Water Resources Agency gave a grim report to the Board of Supervisors about its dire financial situation and how that will impact planning and projects to bring the Salinas Valley Groundwater Basin into balance. Estimates show to complete just a fraction of the core plan for the basin will cost in excess of $20 million over the next five years. State law requires full sustainability by 2042, meaning the water that is being pumped out needs to equal what is recharged. How is this possible when development projects keep getting approved that further drain the already over-drafted basin? (05.19.15)

Drought Impacts to Groundwater Basin
Salinas Valley has a saltwater intrusion problem in the groundwater basin. Research indicates that the intrusion is exacerbated during times of drought, but that the true extent of the problem doesn't show up for several years after the end of the drought. (05.10.15)

Tiered Water Pricing Deemed Unconstitutional
Wow! This is a big decision in the water world. Apparently tiered water rates have been ruled unconstitutional. The ruling comes after residents in San Juan Capistrano filed suit. If you use more water, you get charged more. The Court of Appeals decided you can only charge as much as the water costs (based on California law). (04.20.15)

State of the Basin: Overdrawn, Like We Thought
The State of the Basin report presented to the Board of Supervisors indicates that a shift in pumping locations could help alleviate saltwater intrusion into the groundwater basin in Salinas Valley. Interestingly, an average of up to 24,000 acre feet per year is pumped from the basin rather than replenished. (12.17.14)

Weekly’s Editorial Board Recommends Yes Vote on Measure O
The Monterey Weekly Editorial Board recommends a YES vote on Measure O since it calls for a feasibility study.  This study would determine if CalAm should be bought out and then become publicly owned.  If bought out the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District would take it over. (05.08.1

State of the Basin – Groundwater Report (7.1M PDF file)
The Monterey County Board of Supervisors will hear the Staff Report (123K PDF file) and the State of the Basin Report (7.1M PDF file)—a required report, completed every five years. In addition to reviewing the consequences of a prolonged drought the basin is analyzed with recommendations made to reduce consequences of further groundwater depletion.

LandWatch Questions Marina Coast Water District and the County of Monterey about a Proposed Agreement to Accept Millions in Reimbursements from California American Water for Work on the Regional Project
On Wednesday, February 24th, the Marina Coast Water District approved an agreement with California American Water (Cal-Am) to accept reimbursement for work to be performed by the District and Monterey County Water Resources Agency through the end of the year. Up to $4.3 million would be provided to these agencies which would repay the loan. However, under the agreement, Cal-Am could forgive the loan. The agreement, only posted 24 hours for the public to review, may violate the California Environmental Quality Act and Local Agency Formation Commission requirements. Cal-Am ratepayers on the Peninsula could also end up paying for a project that would benefit non-Cal-Am customers. The same agreement was approved by the Monterey County Board of Supervisors in closed session on Friday, February 26th. (03.02.10)

The letters below were submitted to Marina Coast Water District and the County last week.

California American Water Company
Desalination Plant

Salinas Valley Basin Water will be returned to Basin
The desalination portion of the MPWSP intends to obtain its source water from subsurface slant coastal supply wells in the Salinas Valley Groundwater Basin. The Salinas Valley Groundwater Basin has been plagued for decades with seawater intrusion because of overpumping, which jeopardizes our agricultural and domestic water supply. LandWatch has long supported finding a realistic solution to the water supply problems on both the Monterey Peninsula and the Salinas Valley, and we believe the solution to one problem should not aggravate the other.

The desalination project's source water wells may further harm the basin to the extent that Salinas Valley groundwater is pumped along with ocean water. One way to mitigate this harm would be to return any fresh water pumped by the source wells to the Salinas Valley Groundwater Basin. Returning this water to the basin to existing groundwater users who use it to offset their pumping will help mitigate harm from the desalination source wells. One great option for this "return" water is the community of Castroville, whose wells are now going salty.

Cal-Am Public Meeting Shows Frustrated Public
Cal-Am's dirty laundry aired... says one speaker at the first public forum offered by California American Water. The article reiterates that if there was any doubt before how people felt, the board now knows people are frustrated. (08.19.15)

Comments Due July 1st on Desal Project
The California Public Utilities Commission has offered a 60 day period for the public to comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the desalination project. This is the public's opportunity to provide substantive feedback on issues like traffic, energy use, greenhouse gases, etc. (06.06.15)

Water Project DEIR Released
Within the 1700 page multi-volume Environmental Impact Report, the conclusion is that a smaller desal plant combined with a new groundwater replenishment system is environmentally superior to the large desal option. What do you think? Public comments on this Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project are due July 1, 2015. (04.30.15)

Surfrider Submitted a Brief Opposing the Sizing Settlement for CalAm’s Desal Plant (70K PDF file)
Surfrider contents water for lots of record is not supported (because it fails to reflect lowered per capita usage and unbuildable lots); water for tourism bounce-back is not supported (because there is no evidence that water shortage is hampering bounce-back or that the bounce will return to previous levels); lots of record and bounce-back water should be restricted to those uses; and Pacific Grove's water should be incorporated.(01.21.13)

Monterey Peninsula Water Update
LandWatch has been closely following the Peninsula’s Water crisis and proposed solutions since 2008 when Cal-Am first proposed a desalination project. There are now three competing proposals: the CalAm Water Supply Project, DeepWater Desal Project and the People’s Moss Landing Project. Numerous concerns exist about all of these projects which have been outlined in a recent report. (03.13.13)

CalAm Water Project to Get NEPA Environmental Review
Cal-Am was directed to complete an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for its water project. The EIS must discuss a range of alternatives along with the proposed action and analyze them on equal footing, i.e. comparatively analyzed. It is also recommended that an agency prepare a comparable financial analysis to help inform the decision. (10.30.12)

Board of Supervisors Special Hearing on Governance Structure
The Board of Supervisors will meet September 28th to considering signing onto a governance structure for the Cal-Am owned desalination facility. Though LandWatch supports public ownership, we believe this step is premature for a number of reasons. (09.27.12)

LandWatch Involvment

 

California American Water Company
Groundwater Replenishment

Pure Water Gets Wide Ranging Support 
California leaders made it clear replacement water supplies are needed. The Pure Water Monterey project is promising safe, sustainable, and economically responsible water for the region. LandWatch is one of many supporting this project. (06.11.16)

PureWatch Agreement Approved
LandWatch became an intervenor in the Cal-Am Water Supply Project primarily to ensure the Groundwater Replenishment Project, now called Pure Water Monterey, comes to fruition. Last Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve the Pure Water Monterey project. (11.03.15)

Pure Water Project Goes to Board
The Board of Supervisors will decide to sign the Memorandum of Understanding for the PureWater project.  This innovative groundwater replenishment project provides a guaranteed water source. (11.02.15)

Pure Water Project EIR Approved
This cutting edge groundwater replenishment system project recycles waste water and storm water to recharge the Seaside aquifer and provide irrigation water for Salinas Valley agriculture.  LandWatch has long supported Pure Water and we are pleased with the outcome.   (10.12.15)

Pure Water EIR to be Reviewed
October 8th the Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency will consider certification of the final Environmental Impact Report at a public hearing. What is being evaluated/considered is the groundwater replenishment project. (09.28.15)

Groundwater Replenishment Project EIR Released
The Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency (MRWPCA) has released a Draft Environmental Impact Report (Draft EIR) for the Pure Water Monterey Groundwater Replenishment Project. MRWPCA is the Lead Agency under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The public review and comment period for the Draft EIR runs for 45 days, beginning April 22, 2015 and ending June 5, 2015. A copy of the Draft EIR is available for review during normal business hours at the MRWPCA Administrative Office, 5 Harris Court, Bldg. D, Monterey, CA 93940. (04.22.15)

CPUC Holds Public Participation Hearings on January 9th
The California Public Utilities Commission is taking public testimony on Cal-Am’s Water Supply Project. LandWatch has three main concerns: Cal-Am’s groundwater rights, including a portfolio of water supply solutions, and public ownership through the Hybrid Regional Plan. (01.03.13

LandWatch Involvment

Hybrid Regional Plan

LandWatch Updates Hybrid Regional Plan
LandWatch has developed an updated hybrid plan to address regional water supply issues in light of new information. Several local organizations have endorsed this plan already. (03.30.12)

LandWatch supports the Hybrid Regional Water Plan at the CA Public Utilities Commission Hearing
On July 13th LandWatch and a group of environmental groups testified at the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) hearing that took place right in Monterey’s City Hall. We presented the Hybrid Regional Water Plan as the environmentally superior alternative to the Coastal Water Project. Below is the LandWatch letter submitted to the PUC administrative law judge, Judge Minkin, and Commissioner John Bohn. (07.19.09)

Hybrid Regional Water Plan: The Environmentally Superior Alternative
LandWatch and a group of community stakeholders developed a Hybrid Regional Water Plan, endorsed to date by the League of Women Voters of the Monterey Peninsula, the Prunedale Neighbors Group, the Carmel Valley Association, and the Ventana Chapter of the Sierra Club. (07.10.09)

Aromas Water District

LandWatch Comments On The Aromas Water District’s Proposal To Increase Its Sphere of Influence To Include Two Neighborhoods In Monterey County
LandWatch submitted a letter to the Aromas Water District and LAFCO on November 22nd regarding AWD’s proposal which includes: Sphere of Influence (SOI) amendment to add approximately 1,720 acres within the AWD’s SOI boundary within Monterey County; annexation of two existing subdivisions to the AWD and provision of domestic water service to approximately 72 existing homes; the annexation areas are within the proposed SOI amendment area; creation of an assessment district to finance improvements for the proposed annexation areas; and construction of water system improvements to serve the proposed annexation areas, which includes extension of water lines and construction of accessory water system improvements. We commented that the proposed delivery of water is an illegal appropriation/export out of the overdrafted groundwater Pajaro Valley Groundwater Basin to Via del Sol. Neither PVWMA nor Monterey County has the authority to grant approval for the out-of-basin transfer of Pajaro Valley Groundwater into the Moro Cojo/Salinas Valley Watershed. The PVWMA authorizing statue prohibits out of basin transfers, and there is no justification under California law or CEQA that allows PVWMA to ignore the overlying rights of Pajaro Valley landowners. (12.10.11)

LandWatch Comments On The Aromas Water District’s proposal To Annex 1,720 Acres Into Service Area (112K PDF file)
LandWatch sent a letter to the Aromas Water District and LAFCO on November 22, 2011 regarding AWD’s Sphere of Influence (SOI) amendment to add approximately 1,720 acres within the District’s SOI boundary within Monterey County. The proposed annexation includes two existing subdivisions to the Aromas Water District and provision of domestic water service to approximately 72 existing homes; the annexation areas are within the proposed SOI amendment area. The proposal also includes the creation of assessment district to finance improvements for proposed annexation areas and the construction of water system improvements to serve the proposed annexation areas, which includes extension of water lines and construction of accessory water system improvements. LandWatch raised questions about the legality of the proposed delivery of water out of the overdrafted groundwater Pajaro Valley Groundwater Basin to Via del Sol. We stated that neither PVWMA nor Monterey County has the authority to grant approval for the out-of-basin transfer of Pajaro Valley Groundwater into the Moro Cojo/Salinas Valley Watershed. The PVWMA authorizing statue prohibits out of basin transfers, and there is no justification under California law or CEQA that allows PVWMA to ignore the overlying rights of Pajaro Valley landowners. (11.22.11)

Marina Coast Water District

Water District Meeting on Budget is Complicated
This meeting raised more questions than it answered. Many water agencies are considering rate increases.  Residents are furious; while others aren’t sure the proper process is being followed. (09.17.15)

Marina Coast Water District Seeks To Annex All Of Fort Ord (144K PDF file)
Marina Coast Water District is proposing to annex the entire Fort Ord area. LandWatch sent a letter to both MCWD and LAFCO on November 17, 2011 questioning this proposal. We reviewed the Draft Initial Study/Negative Declaration for proposed changes to the MCWD jurisdictional boundaries. The project would amend MCWD’s Sphere of Influence and expand its Service Area to include all of the former Fort Ord including lands within the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army. MCWD currently provides service to this area as outlined in the 1998 Water/Wastewater Facilities Agreement between FORA and MCWD which expires when FORA sunsets in 2014. The proposed project would allow water and wastewater service to continue beyond the FORA expiration and provide customers the right to vote for MCWD Board of Directors. We asked a variety of questions about the proposal and LandWatch outlined these questions at the LAFCO hearing on December 5th. (02.02.12)

LandWatch Comments on Marina Coast Water District’s Proposal to Expand Its Service Area To Encompass All of Fort Ord
LandWatch submitted a letter to both Marina Coast Water District and LAFCO on November 17th commenting on the Draft Initial Study/Negative Declaration for proposed changes to the MCWD jurisdictional boundaries. The project would amend MCWD’s Sphere of Influence and expand its Service Area to include all of the former Fort Ord including lands within the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army. MCWD currently provides service to this area as outlined in the 1998 Water/Wastewater Facilities Agreement between FORA and MCWD which expires when FORA sunsets. The proposed project would allow water and wastewater service to continue beyond the FORA expiration and provide customers the right to vote for MCWD Board of Directors. (12.10.11)

Regional Desalination Projects

LandWatch, Along Aith the Carmel Valley Association, Aupports a Contingency Plan for the Regional Project
On May 18, 2011 LandWatch sent a letter to the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District supporting the request of the Carmel Valley Association Water Committee to pursue a contingency plan in case the Regional Desalination Projects stalls. (05.18.11)

Coastal Water Project

Addendum to Coastal Water Project EIR
On April 25th, LandWatch submitted technical comments to the County Board of Supervisors on the Regional Water Project EIR Addendum for the Test Well Program.  LandWatch pointed out that the Addendum was released very late to the public, giving a limited amount of time to review the document. Additionally, a new environmental impact report is required under the California Environmental Quality Act rather than an Addendum to the existing one. (05.05.11)

Issues related to regional water project and settlement/financial agreement developed by the LWV/MP, LandWatch, Sierra Club and Carmel Valley Association
In order to help you better understand LandWatch's concerns with the Regional Project and related Settlement Agreements (as currently proposed), click on this link to read a list of issues developed by the League of Women Voters of the Monterey Peninsula, LandWatch, Sierra Club, and the Carmel Valley Association. (06.26.10)

What’s new with the Coastal Water Project?
On December 17, 2009, The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) certified the 3,100 page Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) for the Coastal Water Project. Certification (finding the document adequate) was originally scheduled for January 2010, but the action was expedited to December presumably to enable local agencies to use the document for their actions. (02.05.10)

LandWatch and the Salinas Valley Ag Trust submit letters on Final EIR for the Coastal Water Project
LandWatch Monterey County recently submitted a letter to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) on the final environmental impact report (FEIR) for the Coastal Water Project. LandWatch is very concerned about the potential growth-inducing impacts of the project and the potential impacts on North County’s water supply. (02.05.10)

LW comment letter on the Coastal Water Project DEIR
LandWatch Monterey County recently submitted a comment letter on the Coastal Water Project’s Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR). It is our hope that Monterey County can soon begin to solve our critical water supply problems. (04.24.09)

Other Water Issues

Senate Approves Wolk’s Groundwater Bill
This week the Senate approved two groundwater bills offered by Senator Lois Wolk.  One bill addresses cities and counties with high and medium priority basins to set up a permit process by 2018.  The other bans drilling new wells in the 21 critically overdrafted basins in California. (06.02.16)

Effective Groundwater Agencies Needed
During the drought water is continually pumped from the ground—often in a race to the bottom of the aquifer.  Changes in the land can even be seen from space, with a 2” drop in the land every month.  While legislation is pending, some believe it is not enough and leaves important questions unanswered. (05.16.16)

Wolk’s Groundwater Bill Moving Forward
State Senator Lois Wolk (Davis) authored a bill to protect our groundwater and aquifer basins from permanent damage due to overdraft. It was recently heard by the Natural Resources and Water Committee and was approved 6-2. The bill, SB 1317, if approved, would protect aquifers by requiring cities and counties overlying high- and medium-priority basins to apply conditions to permits for new wells by July 1, 2017. (04.17.16)

Salinas Valley Groundwater Basin Survey
We just sent an email out with three options to participate in the Salinas Valley Groundwater Basin survey. Since we can't link to all three... here is a link to the email with the options. Please participate as it helps inform the outcome. It is due by Friday, December 4th. (11.19.15)

Monterey County Water Supply Summary
LandWatch and the Monterey Peninsula League of Women Voters’ summary of water supply projects for Monterey County. (10.21.08)

New Subdivisions Could Be Allowed To Make Overdraft Worse
Current County policy prevents new subdivisions in areas of groundwater overdraft. The Board of Supervisors is being asked to change that rule. Read the LandWatch letter for the full story. (06.02.03)

LandWatch Urges Opposition of No Net Increase (9.12.98)

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