6. QUARTERLY WATER SUPPLY PROJECT STATUS REPORT
Meeting Date: October 20, 2003 Budgeted: N/A
Program/Line Item No.: N/A
Staff Contact: Henrietta Stern Cost Estimate: N/A
General Counsel Approval: N/A
Committee Recommendation: N/A
CEQA Compliance: N/A
This is an expanded quarterly report on water supply augmentation projects for the July through September 2003 period. The next quarterly report will be written in January 2004. Brief monthly updates will be provided in November and December 2003. The primary work efforts reflect Board direction at strategic planning workshops and regular Board meetings. Currently, three priority efforts for the District involve water augmentation, as follows:
Priority 1 -- proceed with aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) test project (also known as “injection/recovery”) while simultaneously evaluating long-term water supply options;
Priority 3 -- develop work plan to implement Seaside Basin Groundwater Management Plan; and
Priority 4 -- develop storm water management plan (integrated into Priority 1).
Priority 1 - EIR on Water Supply Project
At its March 18, 2002 meeting, the Board authorized the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) Phase 1 scope of work to be performed by Jones & Stokes Associates (JSA), the primary environmental consultant, and its engineering services subcontractor, Camp Dresser & McKee (CDM). The Phase 1 engineering work focused on developing project descriptions for non-dam alternatives based on engineering assessments that go beyond the general concepts found in the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) “Plan B” non-dam alternative report. The primary environmental product was the draft Carmel River Flow Threshold Report. Phase 1 activities concluded as of April 4, 2003.
On March 27 and April 2, 2003, the MPWMD Board approved the scope of work for Phase 2, which focuses on preparation of a Draft EIR on water supply options. The Board directed that the Draft EIR evaluate an 8,400 acre-foot per year (AFY) desalination project in Sand City at the project level of detail. Alternatives to be evaluated at the program level of detail include:
Ø California-American Water Company’s (Cal-Am) proposed Coastal Water Project (CWP), comprised of a 9,400 AFY desalination plant at Moss Landing plus ASR (about 1,300 AFY);
Ø ASR plus desalination at Sand City;
Ø Cal-Am’s proposed Carmel River Dam and Reservoir Project; and
Ø No Project alternative.
Please refer to the “Background” section below for more detailed information.
At its May 2, 2003 special meeting, the Board approved funding for consultants to obtain permits from several agencies in order to conduct geotechnical (test wells) and geophysical (depth soundings) and to better characterize the coastal dune aquifer. This information is an important element in determining the feasibility of using the horizontal directional drilling (HDD) “slant well” technique for seawater intake and brine discharge for the Sand City desalination project.
Notable activities in the July through September 2003 period include:
Ø District staff commented on a July 16, 2003 Proposed Decision by CPUC administrative law judge (ALJ) Cooke, who recommended that: (1) the Cal-Am application for a new Carmel River dam and reservoir be denied without prejudice; (2) Cal-Am should prepare a new application for the Coastal Water Project; (3) the CPUC should be the lead agency for the CWP; and (4) various rate-setting determinations should be adopted. The District concurred with the CPUC Proposed Decision except for the lead agency issue; MPWMD believes it should be the lead agency or co-lead if the project is designated only to comply with State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) Order WR 95-10. District Board met with Commissioners to educate them about local issues. District Counsel participated in a September 3, 2003 multi-party meeting with CPUC Commissioner Geoffrey Brown, and attended the September 4 hearing, where the full Commission adopted the Proposed Decision. In addition, the Commission directed Cal-Am to consider regional partnerships for the Moss Landing desalination facility.
Ø District Board adopted Findings of Denial and denied Cal-Am’s application to construct a new Carmel River Dam and Reservoir Project at its August 18, 2003 meeting.
Ø District obtained payment of $329,397 in overdue invoices from Cal-Am, and submitted final billing to Cal-Am for reimbursement for water supply alternative evaluations.
Ø District staff met with state and federal fishery agencies regarding the methodology to be used to assess alternative project impacts on the Carmel River steelhead resource. District staff completed computer modeling to support the analysis of impacts on hydrology and aquatic resources, and is preparing hydrology and fishery chapters with a completion goal of mid-October.
Ø District consultants prepared the first administrative draft text for most chapters of the Draft EIR, including assessment of impacts to biological and cultural resources, traffic, noise, air quality and others. Staff reviewed the first draft and provided comments.
Ø District obtained permits for geotechnical and geophysical tests for HDD wells from: Regional Water Quality Control Board, California Department of Parks and Recreation, City of Sand City, City of Seaside and California Coastal Commission. The final permit needed is from the U.S. Army/Fish &Wildlife Service.
Ø District staff prepared follow-up information from a July 29, 2003 meeting with State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) staff, including additional engineering information requested by SWRCB on MPWMD Petition for Change for long-term ASR project. Staff requested SWRCB policy clarification of use of seasonal excess Carmel River water.
Ø District staff completed computer modeling and began preparation of a Water Availability Analysis report requested by the SWRCB to assess the MPWMD Petition for Change for diversion of up to 7,909 acre-feet per year from the Carmel River. Staff submitted MPWMD’s water rights application for temporary testing of ASR full-scale test well in the December 2003 through May 2004 period.
Ø District staff attended a Desalination Task Force conference hosted by the California Department of Water Resources on August 26 and 27, 2003.
Ø District staff continued monitoring effects of Cal-Am’s drawdown of the water level in San Clemente Reservoir on MPWMD steelhead fish rescue and rearing activities downstream of the dam. Staff assessed changes in river turbidity and impact of sediment released from the dam on the MPWMD Sleepy Hollow steelhead rearing facility.
Ø District staff continued coordination with Cal-Am and State Department of Health Services regarding year 2003 testing of the water recovery component of the ASR full-scale test well in the Seaside Basin.
Priority 3 - Seaside Basin Groundwater Management Plan
Based on Board direction in April and June 2002, staff developed a scope of work for a technical, environmental and legal review of conceptual ordinances associated with a long-term Seaside Basin Groundwater Management Plan. The firm of Jones & Stokes was the only firm that responded to the Request for Proposals, and a contract was authorized in December 2002. Notable activities in the July through September 2003 period include:
Ø District consultants continued preparation of Administrative Draft EIR on the two proposed ordinances associated with the Management Plan;
Ø On August 28, 2003, MPWMD Board approved a modified Addendum No. 2 to a 1991 interagency agreement between Monterey County Water Resources Agency, Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency and MPWMD regarding water resources management of the Seaside Basin within the former Fort Ord area. Other parties have not adopted this amended agreement to date.
Related Water Augmentation Activities
The following table briefly summarizes relevant action on related water augmentation efforts.
Test full-scale injection test well on former Fort Ord; continue testing pilot well, as appropriate.
Injection ended on May 15, 2003 with 168 AF injected this season. Recovery testing and evaluation in progress.
Obtain SWRCB temporary permits for Water Year 2003 test period; follow process to obtain long-term water rights.
On January 22, 2003, SWRCB issued temporary permit for year 2003 testing season through May 2003. On August 7, District submitted application for year 2004 test season. District submitted information requested by SWRCB for the long-term permit.
Finalize legal lot/remodel study to include data from County of Monterey; incorporate into water project EIR.
In the absence of County data for Phase II, MPWMD staff in Fall 2002 developed interim Phase II estimates for the County along with a rough estimate of total water use.
Provide leadership to ensure compliance with SWRCB Order 95-10; pursue relaxation of one-for-one offset.
Community water use was less than the 11,285 AFY diversion limit from the Carmel River Basin in water year 2003. District staff continues coordination with Cal-Am to encourage conservation.
Continue evaluation of feasibility of sediment removal from San Clemente and Los Padres Reservoirs.
Staff continues monitoring effects of California Department of Water Resources and Cal-Am action. Cal-Am lowering of San Clemente Dam was completed in Summer 2003, pursuant to direction by state and federal agencies. No action on Los Padres Dam.
Continue pursuit of storm water reuse opportunities in cooperation with ongoing regional efforts.
District encourages jurisdictions to incorporate innovative use of stormwater and recycled water in planning process. Storm water reuse is considered as an alternative in the water supply EIR.
Water Distribution System Permits
Staff implements District Rules and Regulations that govern water distribution systems within the District. District staff receives many calls each month from people who are planning to submit applications or have other questions about ordinances governing water distribution systems. District staff also responds to written requests for information.
Ordinance No. 105, which further refines the Rules and Regulations that govern water distribution systems (WDS) within the District, became effective on January 15, 2003. The regulatory area in Carmel Valley for single-parcel connection systems now includes the entire Carmel River watershed within the District boundary, rather than being limited to the alluvial aquifer or 1,000 feet from the alluvial aquifer and certain named tributaries. On February 27, 2003, the Board approved the second reading and adopted Ordinance No. 106 amending permit application fees. The ordinance became effective on March 31, 2003. The District Board or hearing officer approved three WDS permits in Carmel Valley in the July-September reporting period: (1) create single-family WDS (Hyles); (2) amend Chugach #Well 2 WDS; and (3) amend Cañada Woods WDS (alluvial, potable supply). District staff is currently processing three permit applications: (1) create system for non-alluvial components of Cañada Woods WDS (non-potable and reclaimed water supply); (2) amend Ryan Ranch (Cal-Am) WDS to facilitate a workforce housing project; and (3) create a single-parcel WDS in Carmel Valley.
At its March 17, 2003 meeting, the Board approved retention of a consultant to assist with water distribution system regulations. The consultant’s primary tasks are development of a procedures manual for hydrologic and well testing, preparing revised application forms and guidelines for applicants, and helping staff review application materials.
The District logs incoming notices and comments on selected CEQA documents prepared by other agencies for projects within the District boundary that could potentially affect water supply, quality or environmental resources managed by the District. Comment letters have been primarily for EIRs on General Plan Updates and related matters.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION: The following paragraphs provide more detailed background information on selected subjects discussed above.
Background on EIR for 2002-2003 Water Supply Project: At its March 18, 2002 meeting, the Board authorized the Phase 1 EIR/EIS scope of work to be performed by Jones & Stokes Associates and its engineering services subcontractor Camp Dresser & McKee (CDM) for a not-so-exceed amount of about $724,000. The Phase 1 engineering work has focused on developing project descriptions for non-dam alternatives based on engineering assessments that go beyond the general concepts found in the CPUC “Plan B” non-dam alternative report. The Phase 1 environmental work has included issuance of a Notice of Preparation of the EIR in June 2002, public hearings and receipt of written comments in July 2002, and review of policy issues elicited by the comments in July and August 2002. Due to lack of a federal sponsor, the EIS component is not being pursued at this time.
At its August 29, 2002 meeting, the MPWMD Board voted 4-3 to not approve the Phase 2 scope of work to prepare the Draft EIR/EIS at this time. Instead, the Board believed that key Phase 1 engineering tasks must first be completed, and more information must be obtained about pertinent topics before moving forward. The needed information includes: perform detailed review of Plan B Final Report released by the CPUC in August 2002 to assess data still required for the EIR/EIS; determine Cal-Am plans for a dam or Plan B; confirm lead agency status with the CPUC, and confirm U.S. Army plans regarding role as federal lead agency.
At its August 29 and September 16, 2002 meetings, the Board also directed staff to add a new “Task 2-0” to define the streamflow regime that would sustain the Carmel River habitat and dependent species. This information would be used as the basis of defining thresholds of significance in the EIR, that is, a numerical value used to determine whether a project impact is significant or not. At the August 29 meeting, the Board understood that the goal of certifying an EIR by October 2003 would likely not be achieved due to the extra time needed for Task 2.0 as well as delays not in the District’s control. These delays relate to lack of access to Cal-Am or CPUC data that has hindered District engineering analysis of water supply alternatives.
On March 27, April 2 and May 2, 2003, the MPWMD Board provided specific direction on the scope of work for Phase 2, which focuses on preparation of a Draft EIR on water supply options as well as testing to determine feasibility of alternative means to collect seawater and dispose of brine. In a series of motions, the Board took the following action:
Ø The Board proposed construction of a local desalination project in the Sand City area. The goal is to complete the Final EIR in March 2004 and hold an authorizing vote on financing the project in November 2004. The project goal is to make lawful the current level of water demand in the community (15,285 acre-feet per year Cal-Am production), which means the desalination project yield goal is 8,409 acre-feet per year.
Ø The Sand City desalination project will be studied in detail in the EIR (“project level” analysis). Other alternatives, such as Moss Landing desalination, aquifer storage and recovery (ASR), reclamation, storm water reuse, off-stream storage, and the Carmel River Dam and Reservoir Project, will be reviewed at a lesser level of detail (“program level” analysis).
Ø The Board approved the Phase 2 scope of work for engineering and environmental work associated with preparation of a Draft EIR on the water supply project with a completion goal of October 2003. The not-to-exceed amount is $662,500 for the Draft EIR; $222,700 for more detailed engineering studies of horizontal directional drilling (HDD) wells (“slant drilling”) for seawater collection and brine disposal for the Sand City desalination project; and $61,550 to obtain permits for the aquifer testing component of the HDD assessment.
Ø The Board indicated its desire to serve as the lead agency for preparation of a separate EIR on the Coastal Water Project (CWP) proposed by Cal-Am. The CWP currently proposes a large desalination plant at Moss Landing, in combination with local ASR, and new pipelines and other infrastructure. Because other agencies have also indicated interest in serving as the lead agency for the Cal-Am project, a formal determination has yet to be made.
Ø The Board directed MPWMD staff to formally request Cal-Am to rescind its application for the Carmel River Dam and Reservoir Project dam, consistent with February 2003 announcements about the Coastal Water Project. MPWMD staff was directed to schedule a public hearing on whether or not the application for the dam should be denied if an affirmative response is not received within 90 days. Cal-Am wrote to indicate it did not plan to rescind its application until determinations on the Coastal Water Project were made by the CPUC. The Board scheduled a public hearing on the dam application for August 18, 2003.
Background on Plan B: Assembly Bill 1182, which became law in January 1999, required the CPUC to identify a long-term contingency plan (“Plan B”) if Cal-Am’s proposed reservoir project is not approved or does not come to fruition, if approved. Since mid-1999, the District participated in numerous CPUC pre-hearing conferences and workshops on the reservoir and Plan B projects, and submitted comments on all pertinent work products, as requested by the CPUC. District staff also assisted CPUC staff and engineering/planning consultants with background information, documents, work product review, and computer modeling using the District’s CVSIM model, as requested. The District, Cal-Am, and CPUC also met to discuss how best to coordinate the EIR and Plan B processes. Please see Exhibit 6-A for more information.
At its August 2, 2000 workshop, the CPUC indicated that the Plan B recommendation would not be made until Spring 2001; this time line was revised by the CPUC in December 2000. In May 2001, the CPUC set September/October 2001 as the goal to formally identify the preferred Plan B alternative. In early September 2001, District staff and board members received copies of the executive summary and full Draft Plan B Report dated August 2001. The CPUC held a workshop on October 2, 2001 to review the Draft Report. District staff reviewed the draft report and submitted comments on the Executive Summary and main report in mid-to-late October 2001. The Final Plan B report was to have been completed by December 2001, but was actually released in August 2002. A September 21, 2001 CPUC Administrative Law Judge Ruling stated that the CPUC will function as a responsible agency with the District functioning as the lead agency in the environmental evaluation of Plan B. The CPUC’s compliance with AB1182 ended with formal filing of the Plan B report and associated documents.
Background on Cal-Am Reservoir Project EIR: The Draft Supplemental EIR was completed in November 1998. Over 1,000 pages of written comments from 57 entities were received by the January 15, 1999 deadline. At its April 17, 2000 meeting, the Board directed that the scope for the revised Draft SEIR-2 for the Carmel River Dam and Reservoir Project proposed by Cal-Am be expanded to include a co-equal evaluation of the “Plan B” non-dam alternative to be identified by the CPUC. The District, Cal-Am, CPUC and consultants met on May 5, 2000 to discuss how to best coordinate the efforts of the two agencies. In early June 2000, the District received the CPUC’s Plan B Component Characterization report, which summarizes potential components of a Plan B non-dam alternative scenario. Based on this information, the District’s primary environmental consultant, Jones & Stokes Associates, developed a revised draft scope of services and time line for the SEIR, which was approved for planning purposes by the District Board on July 17, 2000.
In March 2001, the District Board agreed that all computer modeling should be deferred until an accurate description of the seismic safety changes at San Clemente Dam were identified by the California Department of Water Resources and until the CPUC identified the preferred Plan B non-dam alternative. At that time, the understanding was that these issues would be resolved in year 2001. Progress on the EIR was delayed throughout most of year 2001 waiting for this important information. In August-September 2001, Cal-Am requested that work on several important reservoir studies be put on hold due to uncertainties about the future of the reservoir project. District consultants were directed to develop Interim Draft work products. Please see the following paragraphs and Exhibit 6-A for a review of relevant events since 1996.
Background on San Clemente Dam: The California Department of Water Resources (DWR), Division of Safety of Dams (DSOD), determined in the 1980s that San Clemente Dam does not meet current seismic safety standards. A Draft EIR on options to address this safety issue was prepared by DWR in December 1998. In the meantime, the National Marine Fisheries Service vigorously asserted that the dam should be removed. At a June 25, 2001 public workshop, the DWR Deputy Director stated that the preferred alternative for San Clemente Dam would be identified in the July/August 2001 time frame, and that DWR will re-issue a second Revised Draft EIR in June 2002. Later in 2001, DWR determined that the project purpose for San Clemente Dam has expanded far beyond the original seismic safety issue, and now involves sediment management and endangered species issues, both of which involve compliance with federal processes. It was announced that DWR and likely the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would be co-leads on an EIR/EIS, with the environmental review process for San Clemente Dam essentially beginning anew. To date, a preferred alternative has not been identified and little action has been taken on the EIR/EIS. In Summer and Fall 2002, Cal-Am and DWR/DSOD exchanged a series of letters regarding near-term requirements for seismic safety imposed by DSOD. The District continues to monitor the situation and assist as requested.
The project description and operations scenario for San Clemente Dam is important because it affects all computer modeling for the No Project, Cal-Am reservoir proposal and Plan B. An accurate description is needed because components of the Cal-Am system work together as an integrated whole, where the operation of one component affects the others. Evaluations of sediment transport, flushing flows, fish habitat and riparian/wetland habitat are also dependent on an accurate description of San Clemente Dam. Given the continuing delays by DWR and others, District staff developed reasonable assumptions about San Clemente Dam for the purpose of computer modeling for the long-term project EIR/EIS.
Since March 2001, District management and technical staff participated in many technical and policy meetings on San Clemente Dam operations, and provided technical assistance. District staff helped specialists retained by DWR to conduct detailed sediment transport modeling (HEC-6) on a variety of scenarios involving the dam and provided CVSIM computer model output on streamflow to assist the DWR research team. District staff submitted technical comments on a dam “notch/burial” concept proposed by the firm of G&G Inc, retained by the California Coastal Conservancy to evaluate other options for San Clemente Dam, as well as DWR’s “trial balloon” concept for sediment management. District staff also assisted in locating alternative sediment disposal sites near the dam.
Background on Reservoir Studies on California Red-legged Frog and Esselen Cultural Resources: In late 2001, District consultants completed an Interim Draft Biological Assessment (BA) of potential project effects on the California red-legged frog in compliance with section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Interim BA focuses on the “setting” section, which includes color aerial photographs and CDs, along with an associated database of locations using a Global Positioning System (GPS). This information has been subjected to peer and agency review. Due to uncertainty about the reservoir project, Cal-Am in August 2001 requested that District consultants not move forward with completion of the “impacts and mitigation” section of the BA; only general concepts are currently included. It is notable that the ESA process is separate from and extends beyond the EIR process.
Regarding cultural resources, extensive inventory reports have been completed. More recently, the Final Addendum to the 1999 Inventory/Eligibility Report, which focused on the Valley Oak and Riparian/Wetland mitigation areas associated with the reservoir project, was transmitted in August 2001 to entities involved with ensuring compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), Section 106 process. Similar to the frog situation, Cal-Am in September 2001 requested that District consultants prepare an Interim Draft Historic Property Management Plan (HPMP), and not move forward with the “impacts and mitigation” section at this time. The Section 106 NHPA process also is separate from and extends beyond the EIR.
Background on Calculating Water Use for Legal Lots of Record: In April 1997, the Board authorized staff to retain the Land Systems Group (LSG) to quantify the potential water use from existing, buildable, legal lots of record as of January 1, 1997 and expected remodels in 10 years from that date. The report was finalized in early March 1998 and focused on legal lots on vacant parcels. A digital database and map were also delivered to the District. An expanded study that focuses on vacant lots on improved parcels was approved by the Board at its April 19, 1999 meeting. The draft report was received at the August 21, 2000 meeting, but did not include data from the City of Monterey or Monterey County. The City of Monterey data was incorporated into an interim report that was received in May 2001. The Monterey data add an additional 15 AF (rounded) to the total, estimated as 1,181 AF. County of Monterey data was still not available as of early 2002. Thus, District staff estimated the portion contributed by Monterey County for the Phase II report based on data from the Phase I report. Including the County estimate, the total production amount for planning purposes is about 1,250 AF. The EIR/EIS will not discuss how water might actually be allocated by the jurisdictions once a series of new projects is constructed. Information from all LSG studies and previous reconnaissance-level estimates of future water needs from each jurisdiction (totaling about 3,480 AF) will be incorporated into the discussion of growth in the water supply project EIR/EIS.
Background on Seaside Groundwater Basin Management Plan: Based on information presented at the Board’s September 18, 2000 workshop on Seaside Basin management issues, the Board at its December 11, 2000 meeting directed staff to retain a consultant to help prepare a Seaside Basin Management Plan in coordination with major existing and future pumpers from the basin. The Board indicated that the Plan elements should include: consolidate known information, confirm existing estimates of reliable yield, consider yield estimates for smaller subunits of the basin, assess condition of the basin (or sub-basins), develop best management schemes, and assess potential for basin recharge. District staff met with major pumpers and agency officials in 2001, but the management plan effort was deferred until 2002 due to the extensive efforts needed to construct and test the full-scale ASR test well through Summer 2002.
A hydrogeologic report of the Seaside Basin prepared by Fugro West, Inc. in 1997 concluded that the long-term sustainable water yield from the coastal area of the Seaside Basin should be reduced from existing levels. However, the basin could be more efficiently used by spreading out production throughout the coastal subarea, and by increased use of the shallower Paso Robles aquifer. Thus, District staff continue to help Cal-Am develop management strategies to reduce extractions from the coastal basin during the wet season and determine which wells would be best to use as production from Seaside increases in the dry season. SWRCB Order WR 98-04 requires Cal-Am reductions in pumping from the Seaside Basin when Carmel River flow at the Highway 1 bridge is greater than 40 cubic feet per second (cfs) from November 1 through April 30.
Background on Laguna Seca Subarea Study: Since June 2001, District staff have guided consultants working on the Phase III hydrogeologic assessment of the Laguna Seca Subarea of the Seaside Basin. The information from the subarea study has filled in important data gaps needed for a comprehensive basin management plan. The firm of IDIAS Consulting was retained in June 2001 to help locate and obtain access to drill a test well in an unexplored portion of the subarea that needs to be evaluated. The firm of Yates, Feeney and Rosenberg was retained in August 2001 to complete the technical portion of the report. The draft report was formally received by the Board at its August 29, 2002 meeting, and was finalized in December 2002.
Background on ASR Testing in Seaside Basin: ASR entails diverting excess winter flows from the Carmel River through existing Cal-Am facilities and injecting the water into the Seaside Coastal groundwater subarea for later recovery. Based on initial testing of the injection well in Spring 1998, a report received by the Board in August 1998 concluded that the injection rate at the pilot injection well was not as high as anticipated, but demonstrated that injection was feasible. Staff installed injection/recovery equipment and began the first season of pilot-scale injection testing in late January 1999 through May 31, 1999, and injected about 200 AF. A November 1999 summary report recommended expanded testing of a full-scale injection well in Winter 2000. Staff located a well site on the former Fort Ord property in Fall 1999, pursued permits, and constructed the well in 2001 (see below). The 1999-2000 testing season focused on the existing pilot test well, during which 170 AF were injected from January 24 through May 25, 2000. The pilot test well injected about 77 AF from mid-January through May 2001.
Beginning in November 2000 through February 2001, efforts by Padre Associates and Zim Industries, with assistance by Cal-Am and District staff, resulted in successful drilling of a 720-foot deep well into the Santa Margarita Sandstone, located just east of General Jim Moore Road on the former Fort Ord. The well was completed in March 2001, and injection testing at partial capacity began in mid-April 2001. Carmel River flow rates fell below state triggers in early May 2001, which halted testing. Though only 3 AF were injected, well performance in terms of gallons per minute exceeded initial expectations. Beginning in June 2001 through Winter 2002, District staff worked closely with Cal-Am and PG&E to construct the necessary infrastructure to extensively test the well at full capacity in the 2002 season to the present.
Background on Water Rights for ASR Testing: Since April 1998, the SWRCB has issued five temporary water rights permits to allow the District to test its pilot and full-scale injection wells, typically for the December 1 through May 31 period (Carmel River streamflow permitting). Staff submitted a temporary urgency permit application for the December 2001-May 2002 period in July 2001. It was formally filed and noticed by the SWRCB in late September 2001. The permit was issued to MPWMD the week of December 3, 2001, over the strenuous objections of Cal-Am. Extensive District staff time was spent to respond to protest letters by Cal-Am and meet with Cal-Am and various agency representatives regarding this issue. The District strongly asserts that water rights to a local public resource (the Carmel River) should be held by a public entity accountable to local citizens rather than a private entity primarily accountable to non-local shareholders (Cal-Am/American Water Works Service Company is now owned by a German-based multi-national corporation). For the full-scale test well, permits from City of Seaside, U.S. Army, FORA, and Marina Coast Water District (MCWD) were obtained, and staff and consultants performed a myriad of activities to comply with the many permit conditions.
Background on Long-Term Petitions for Change: In April 2001, the SWRCB advised the District to submit a change petition to “borrow” from existing District water rights received in 1995 for the proposed New Los Padres (Carmel River) Dam and Reservoir Project. Some of the permitted storage rights would be converted from a surface reservoir on the Carmel River to an underground reservoir in the Seaside Basin until the reservoir project comes on line. Staff transmitted a draft long-term water right application (Petition for Change) for a long-term injection/recovery project, which was discussed with SWRCB staff on July 11, 2001. A refined formal application was submitted in October 2001. In December 2001, District staff received a letter from the SWRCB indicating the detailed engineering information and other detailed permit modification information is required before the SWRCB will notice the permit application. District staff met with SWRCB staff in late January 2002 to discuss SWRCB requirements for the petition and related issues.
Similar to the water rights situation for ASR, the District Board directed staff to file a Change Petition to borrow a portion of existing storage rights (7,909 AF) associated with the New Los Padres Project and convert them to diversion rights in order to make lawful the existing water use by the community. District staff transmitted a rough draft application for discussion with SWRCB staff on July 11, 2001. District staff submitted the formal application in April 2002. The SWRCB noticed the Petition for Change for the 7,909 AF in July 2002 and protests were received from several parties through early September 2002. The District responded to the protests in October 2002 and met with parties to develop settlement agreements. At the direction of SWRCB staff, the District is working on a Water Availability Analysis to assess the quantity of water available for diversion from the Carmel River in different seasons and types of water years without harming the environmental resources of the river.
It is notable that SWRCB staff indicated that concurrence by National Marine Fisheries Service (now known as NOAA Fisheries) would be an important component of a decision to approve the change petition. A NOAA Fisheries letter to the CPUC dated June 14, 2001 strongly opposed the concept of changing 3,000 AFY storage rights to year-round diversions as described in the Plan B draft report. District staff separately met with SWRCB and NOAA Fisheries staff to clarify that the intent of the MPWMD water rights application is to use Carmel River water only when excess quantities are available as determined by the regulatory agencies.
Background on Compliance with SWRCB Order WR 95-10: SWRCB Order WR 95-10, adopted in July 1995, set an 11,285 AF annual limit on Cal-Am production from the Carmel River basin for each water year beginning with Water Year (WY) 1996. A Water Year runs from October 1 through September 30 of the next year. Except for WY 1997, Cal-Am production has remained under this limit. District and Cal-Am staff have worked closely to educate the community about the need to conserve and have renewed efforts regarding water audits for large users or large landscapes. The community is presently in Stage 1 of the Expanded Conservation and Standby Rationing Program (MPWMD Ordinance No. 92). The District Board adopted Ordinance No. 92 in January 1999 to ensure compliance with Order WR 95-10 as well as efforts needed in a drought or other water supply emergency. Cal-Am did seek and obtain CPUC approval for a revised rate structure that penalizes high water use and rewards low water use. The rate structure went into effect as of December 1, 2001.
Since early 1998, the District has sought clarification of issues relating to Order WR 95-10. Litigation initiated by the District in July 1998 was resolved on February 1, 2000, when the court ruled against MPWMD and reaffirmed the validity of the state-imposed diversion limits. In a related matter, on January 5, 2000, District and Cal-Am staff met with Harry Schueller, Chief of the SWRCB Division of Water Rights, to discuss the effect of Order WR 95-10 on transfer of retrofit credits in various circumstances and other water use scenarios. Mr. Schueller also spoke to the Board on this issue at the January 27, 2000 meeting.
At the District’s request, SWRCB Board members held a May 30, 2000 public workshop in Monterey on Carmel River issues. The focus of the meeting was compliance with Order WR 95-10 and ways to protect public trust resources, particularly if an enlarged dam is not constructed on the Carmel River. The SWRCB Board members indicated that they might reconsider certain aspects of Order WR 95-10, and asked for additional information on well drilling trends and related information. District staff helped SWRCB staff obtain this information, and received a copy of the SWRCB staff’s findings. In a letter written in Summer 2000, the SWRCB recognized the benefits of relaxing certain elements of the Order, but still recommended maintaining current enforcement (11,285 AFY Cal-Am production limit). At its March 19, 2001 meeting, the District Board concurred that refining the existing one-for-one replacement requirement to allow a small component of water for legal lots and remodels should be explored. Initial discussions with SWRCB representatives in April 2001 resulted in MPWMD Board direction to apply for temporary and long-term storage rights for the Seaside Basin ASR, and long-term rights to divert water from the Carmel River.
Background on SWRCB Order 2001-04-DWR: One aspect of Order WR 95-10 (as amended by Order WR 98-04) is for Cal-Am to conduct evaluations on its water distribution system to determine if refined operations, including strategically located new wells in upper and lower Carmel Valley, could help reduce the environmental effects of water diversions. Since August 1998, District staff has provided suggestions and technical information to Cal-Am, as needed. In December 1998, the SWRCB set June 1999 as the deadline for Cal-Am to perform evaluations to assess whether the operation of wells in lower Carmel Valley could improve streamflow conditions. The District and other litigants submitted comments on the Cal-Am study in September 1999, and awaited communication by the SWRCB regarding future action. In April 2001, the SWRCB issued Order 2001-04-DWR requiring Cal-Am to make certain operational changes to its system. In mid-May 2000, the District and others submitted requests for reconsideration to the SWRCB to clarify and refine certain text to better protect public trust resources. The SWRCB responded in June 2000 that it would reconsider the issue, and set September 17 and 18, 2001 for the hearing. The District and Cal-Am staff hosted an August 28, 2001 field trip of the Carmel River area at the SWRCB’s request. District staff presented written and oral testimony at the September 17 and 18, 2001 hearing on Order 2001-04-DWR. Staff discussed concepts for mutually acceptable language for a final order with Cal-Am and NMFS, and submitted the District’s suggested text for a revised Order 2001-04 in late 2001. In March 2002, the SWRCB held a public hearing to approve the language changes that appeared to be satisfactory to all parties. The process concluded when Order WRO 2002-0002 was issued by the SWRCB on March 21, 2002.
Background on Cal-Am and Other Water Rights Applications: Cal-Am submitted a water rights application to the SWRCB on June 14, 1998 requesting authorization to divert Carmel River water in the winter months when excess amounts are available. On July 14, 1998, the SWRCB wrote a letter to all interested parties regarding the 39 applications that have been submitted since 1995. The letter described the lengthy process and documentation needed to consider any application. It is notable that the SWRCB requires an EIR on the applications (with SWRCB as lead agency and funded by the applicants) before the SWRCB will consider them. The applicants must develop sufficient information to show that “an adequate supply of water is available for existing watershed needs and the applicants’ projects,” especially in light of threatened species listings and other environmental issues on the Carmel River. The letter also notes that “there may be less water available for appropriation” if the Carmel River Dam and Reservoir Project is not constructed, because the dam would provide “flows to supply both instream and out of stream needs within the watershed.” A few parties have completed the EIR process with Monterey County as lead agency, and have water rights applications pending before the SWRCB. In July 2002, the SWRCB advised interested parties that it was conducting a cumulative impacts analysis of the water diversions associated with entities listed on “Table 13” of SWRCB Decision 1632. A September 2002 letter to certain applicants in Carmel Valley indicated a discrepancy between their application and the quantities identified in Table 13. In Spring/Summer 2003, SWRCB staff began re-evaluating previous action and notification procedures regarding Table 13 entities. The SWRCB determined that it would provide additional opportunity for in-basin water users to identify themselves and submit requests for recognized water diversions.
Background on Feasibility of Sediment Removal from Existing Reservoirs: Staff completed a preliminary draft Issue Paper on sediment removal (primarily dredging) that was received by the Board at its August 21, 2000 meeting. The Issue Paper will be revised based on information from the Seismic Retrofit Project EIR, the outcome of field assessments of the feasibility of removing sediment and marketability of the sediment at San Clemente Dam, as well as the other pertinent information. Potential locations for storage of the dredged material have been discussed at various meetings since then, but formal action is dependent on DWR and the San Clemente Dam environmental review process.
Background on Storm Water Reuse Opportunities: In April 2001, staff prepared a grant proposal to assess the potential of shallow canyons known as the “Fort Ord depressions” as a site for Seaside Basin recharge. These depressions could serve as a receiving site for storm water or other water sources, such as excess winter flow from the Carmel River. The Board approved a resolution endorsing the application at its May 31, 2001 meeting. Unfortunately, the grant was not approved. The District re-submitted a similar proposal in Fall 2001, which was not approved. In the meantime, the General Manager has met with local agency heads to explore potential partnerships to use storm water. The most promising concept to date is collaboration on a demonstration project for storm water reuse using facilities at the Presidio of Monterey. The Navy Postgraduate School is also actively exploring efficient use of storm water on its grounds.
A board committee has met intermittently since May 2000 to address storm water issues. Director Lindstrom presented an overview of storm water reuse possibilities at the October 23, 2000 Community Water Forum #1, and requested that the jurisdictions cooperatively work together to collect, treat and reuse treated storm water. A draft Issue Paper on storm water reuse was received by the Board at its August 21, 2000 meeting. The paper summarizes what is known today, policy issues to be addressed and needed information in the future.