28. QUARTERLY WATER SUPPLY PROJECT STATUS REPORT
Meeting Date: April 19, 2004 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 a quarterly report on District water supply augmentation projects for the January through March 2004 period. The next quarterly report will be written in July 2004. At that time, the “Background” information in this staff note will be expanded and presented in a separate reference document. The primary work efforts reflect Board direction at strategic planning workshops and regular Board meetings. Currently, the two priority water augmentation efforts are:
Ø proceed with Seaside Basin aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) test project (also known as “injection/recovery”) while simultaneously evaluating long-term water supply options;
Ø prepare Seaside Basin Groundwater Management Plan.
EIR on Long-Term Water Supply Project
In Spring 2003, the District Board directed staff and consultants to prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that evaluates an 8,400 acre-foot per year (AFY) desalination project in Sand City at the project level of detail. Four other alternatives were also evaluated at a lesser level of detail.
A “Board Review Draft” EIR was prepared for receipt by the Board at its December 15, 2003 meeting. As part of this effort, engineering consultants conducted revised computer modeling and wrote a revised draft technical memorandum on radial and horizontal directionally drilled (HDD) “slant well” capacities, based on information known in 2003. The Board voted to not release the EIR in December 2003 pending the evaluation of new geotechnical and geophysical field data that were collected in Fall 2003, particularly the findings on the maximum potable water yield of the Sand City desalination site using the HDD well technology. A March 2004 goal was set for presentation of the study results and further consideration of the EIR by the Board. Please refer to the “Background” section below for more detail.
Notable activities by District consultants and staff in January through March 2004 include:
Ø In January 2004, District consultants provided replacement pages for the December 2003 “Board Review Draft” EIR to reflect corrected information that was received in December 2003, after the EIR was printed. The interim EIR may be purchased on CD for $5, and hard copies are available for review at the District office.
Ø In January 2004, District consultants conducted a second offshore geophysical (sonic) test in calm seas to confirm the accuracy of previous data that were collected in heavy seas, which can introduce errors. The second test enhanced understanding of the offshore geology and characteristics of the shallow coastal dune aquifer.
Ø District consultants analyzed geotechnical (test wells) and geophysical (sonic) field data, and prepared a draft Phase 2 report on the hydrogeologic study results in February 2004, which was reviewed by District staff and independent technical experts. The results indicated that the aquifer characteristics were different than previously known; that construction of “offshore HDD” wells for seawater intake (drilled perpendicular to the coastline using the blind hole method) may not be feasible; and that construction of intakes using “onshore HDD” wells (drilled parallel to the beach using the pull through method) appears to be feasible.
Ø In March 2004, District consultants prepared a draft Phase 2 technical memorandum on computer modeling of the Sand City desalination project, which was reviewed by District staff and independent technical experts. Depending on the method used for seawater intake and brine discharge, practical potable water production yields were estimated to range from 3,900 to 8,400 AFY.
Ø In late March 2004, District consultants also prepared draft final Phase 2 report on the hydrogeologic study results, including computer modeling, for final review by District staff, with publication expected in mid-April 2004.
Ø District staff and consultants developed extensive slide presentations, a report Executive Summary, and other materials for a special Board workshop on the hydrogeologic study results on March 31, 2004. District staff presented several options for near-term action on the EIR. Formal action was not taken by the Board, but each Board member expressed his or her view. Most believed it would be best to wait 90-120 days before proceeding in order to consult with other agencies on desalination opportunities in the Moss Landing area. Currently two Moss Landing projects are known to be contemplated by (1) Cal-Am/Monterey County, and (2) Pajaro/Sunny Mesa Community Services District. Materials are provided on the District website, www.mpwmd.dst.ca.us (click on Meetings/ Agendas/March 31, 2004 at 7:00 PM, Item 4)
Since 1996, the District has evaluated the feasibility of ASR at greater levels of detail, including obtaining water rights to divert Carmel River water and inject it into the Seaside Basin (temporary testing as well as a long-term project). Action in the January–March 2004 period includes:
Ø District staff received a temporary permit from the SWRCB for continued testing of the MPWMD full-scale injection/recovery test well in the Seaside Basin in 2004. To date, approximately 160 AF were diverted for injection into the Seaside Basin at the District’s full-scale test well site in 2004. Injection was interrupted for about 12 days due to a pump failure in the Cal-Am system.
Ø District staff and consultants prepared a report on the 2003 ASR investigation results, which was received by the Board at its January 29, 2004 meeting.
Ø District staff continued coordination with State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) staff regarding pending MPWMD water rights applications and related technical information. In a January 14, 2004 letter, the SWRCB staff declined MPWMD’s request to consider in-lieu recharge for the Seaside Basin. The in-lieu recharge concept entails Cal-Am diversion of more than the allowed 11,285 AFA from the Carmel River in the spring of wet years to reduce extractions from the Seaside Basin so that the natural recharge can accumulate. The current SWRCB Order 95-10 requires Cal-Am to maximize pumping in the coastal areas of the Seaside Basin, which has contributed to lowering water levels.
Ø District staff and counsel held a closed session workshop for the Board on water rights issues on March 29, 2004, including review of requests contained in a February 17, 2004 letter from Cal-Am regarding District water rights and possible future partnerships.
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 retained to prepare an EIR on the ordinances in December 2002. Notable activities in the January –March 2004 period include:
Ø The District continued to participate in legal processes related to a lawsuit filed by Cal-Am on August 14, 2003 to adjudicate the Seaside Basin. The Cal-Am lawsuit involves important issues of public concern such as: prioritization and quantification of water rights within the basin; rights to aquifer storage within the basin; rights to artificially introduce non-native water into the basin through direct injection or spreading grounds; a judicial determination that the basin is in overdraft; and the appointment of a water master to manage the water rights and resources of the basin.
Ø In January 2004, the City of Seaside filed a motion asking the Court to limit the District’s authority to manage water resources in the Seaside Basin. On March 19, 2004, a Superior Court hearing was held regarding the plaintiff’s request to change venue or appoint a disinterested judge from another county to hear the case. Resolution of these legal issues may take many months.
Ø Subsequent to the adjudication filing, the District Board directed staff to advise all interested parties that District efforts on an EIR on the two conceptual ordinances are terminated. Near-term efforts will focus on the development of a Management Plan in compliance with protocols set by the State of California (AB 3030 as amended by SB 1938).
Ø At its March 15, 2004 meeting, the Board adopted a resolution declaring its intent to move forward with the Seaside Basin Groundwater Management Plan, and adopted a statement of public participation in the development of the plan. Members of agencies and interested parties were notified of the Board’s action.
Related Water Augmentation Activities
The following table briefly summarizes relevant action on related water augmentation efforts:
Provide leadership to ensure compliance with SWRCB Order 95-10.
As of March 31, 2004, community water use was 208 acre-feet less than the year-to-date diversion limit from the Carmel River Basin for water year 2004. District staff continues coordination with Cal-Am to encourage conservation, and assess the amount of unaccounted-for water in the Cal-Am system.
Continue evaluation of feasibility of sediment removal from San Clemente and Los Padres Reservoirs.
Potential removal of sediment from San Clemente Dam continues to be explored by Cal-Am and the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). District staff participates in meetings and provides technical expertise. Cal-Am is preparing to lower the water level of San Clemente Reservoir from elevation 525 feet to 515 feet, pursuant to direction from DWR’s Division of Safety of Dams. No action has been taken 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 storm water and recycled water in planning process. Storm water reuse is considered in the water supply project EIR.
Water Distribution System Permits
Staff implements District Rules and Regulations that govern water distribution systems (WDS) within the District, as most recently amended by Ordinances No. 96, 105 and 106 (see District website). 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.
In February 2004, the Board heard a staff presentation on current ordinances and ideas for refinement. Due to other pressing priorities, the Board deferred action on this topic until mid-2004.
In the January-March 2004 period, three public hearings were held on WDS applications – two single-parcel connection systems were approved by the staff hearing officer, and one variance request was approved by the Board. Several applications are in process: create system for non-alluvial components of Cañada Woods WDS (non-potable and reclaimed water supply); amend Ryan Ranch (Cal-Am) WDS to facilitate a workforce housing project; amend Bishop Unit (Cal-Am) system to facilitate a 105-unit condominium project in the Laguna Seca Office Park; and create two single-parcel potable water WDS in Carmel Valley. A notice was sent in March 2004 regarding non-compliance of the Cañada Woods WDS (potable supply from alluvial aquifer) with its permit conditions approved in July 2003.
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, water quality or environmental resources managed by the District. In January-March 2004, the District commented on the Monterey County General Plan Update EIR as well as the Pebble Beach Company Development Program for Del Monte Forest. The District also responded to a notice from LAFCO of Monterey County regarding a Petition requesting that the Tehama/Monterra Subdivision be detached from the District. The District also transmitted a Notice of Proposed Negative Declaration and Initial Study for proposed Ordinance Nos. 114 and 115 refining conservation-related ordinances. The first reading of the ordinances is scheduled for April 19, 2004.
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 (JSA) and its engineering services subcontractor Camp Dresser & McKee (CDM) for a not-to-exceed amount of about $724,000. 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 Phase 1 environmental work 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 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 included: 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 related to lack of access to Cal-Am or CPUC data that 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 focused 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 Proposed construction of a local desalination project in the Sand City area with a goal to complete the Final EIR in March 2004 and hold an authorizing vote on financing the project in November 2004. The project goal was 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 was 8,409 acre-feet per year.
Ø Evaluate the Sand City desalination project 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, should be reviewed at a lesser level of detail (“program level” analysis).
Ø 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 was $662,500 for the Draft EIR; $222,700 for more detailed engineering studies of HDD (“slant wells”) 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 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 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 on August 18, 2003. (Note: the Board denied the Cal-Am application at the August 18 meeting.).
District consultants and staff prepared the “Board Review Draft” EIR for receipt by the MPWMD Board at its December 15, 2003 meeting, culminating many months of work on the two-volume document. As part of this effort, engineering consultants conducted revised computer modeling and wrote a revised draft technical memorandum on radial and HDD well capacities. The Board voted to not release the EIR in December 2003, pending the results of the geotechnical and geophysical fieldwork, particularly the findings on the maximum capacity of the Sand City desalination site using the HDD well technology. The Board set March 2004 as the goal to hear the results of the studies and reconsider the EIR issue. In the meantime, the Board directed that identified corrections be made to the Board Review Draft EIR, which was refined in January 2004. The Board Review Draft EIR is available to the public, but not as part of a formal CEQA review process at this time.
In compliance with permits from seven federal, state and local entities, District consultants completed geotechnical and geophysical tests to better define the shallow dune aquifer characteristics as they relate to the feasibility of constructing HDD wells. District consultants drilled four borings and completed four wells—two on the former Fort Ord, one in Sand City, and one in Seaside. Aquifer tests were conducted at the well sites, and on-shore geophysical (sonic) testing occurred along the beach in several locations near the test wells.
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. Beginning in 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 28-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 AB 1182 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 the year 2001. Progress on the EIR was delayed throughout most of 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 28-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 (now known as NOAA Fisheries) 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 was of great interest 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 in 2003 for the purpose of computer modeling for the long-term desalination project EIR.
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 focused on the “setting” section, which included color aerial photographs and CDs, along with an associated database of locations using a Global Positioning System (GPS). This information was 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 were completed in the 1990s. The most recent report, Final Addendum to the 1999 Inventory/Eligibility Report, focused on the Valley Oak and Riparian/Wetland mitigation areas associated with the reservoir project, and 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. 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 on unimproved parcels 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 focused on lots of record 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 were incorporated into an interim report that was received in May 2001. The Monterey data added an additional 15 AF (rounded) to the total, estimated as 1,181 AF. County of Monterey data were 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 was about 1,250 AF. The long-term water supply project EIR did 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) was incorporated into the discussion of growth in the water supply project EIR, as applicable.
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 levels that existed at the time. 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: In June 2001, District staff 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 needed 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.
In late 2003, District staff, in cooperation with Cal-Am, completed several weeks of tests gauging the rate of recovery of injected water from the District’s test well in addition to several water quality tests. About 168 AF were injected in 2003, with 940 AF injected in the 1996-2003 period. About 440 acre-feet were recovered in 2003, the first year of recovery tests. The recovered water was provided free of charge to Cal-Am for community use. District staff and consultants prepared a report on the 2003 ASR investigation results, which was received by the Board at its January 29, 2004 meeting.
Background on Water Rights for ASR Testing: Since April 1998, the SWRCB has issued 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.
District staff prepared responses to public comments on MPWMD’s application for a temporary permit to continue testing of the MPWMD full-scale injection/recovery well in the Seaside Basin in 2003 and 2004. The most recent SWRCB permit was issued in mid-January 2004.
Background on Long-Term Petitions for Change: In April 2001, the SWRCB advised the District to submit a 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 Petition for Change 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.
It is notable that SWRCB staff indicated that concurrence by 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.
District staff met with SWRCB staff on December 2, 2003 to continue discussion of District water rights applications and related technical information. District staff submitted 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. The report assesses the quantity of water available for diversion from the Carmel River, above and beyond current limits, in different seasons and types of water years without harming the environmental resources of the river.
Background on Compliance with SWRCB Order WR 95-10: SWRCB Order WR 95-10, adopted in July 1995, set an 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 the current 11,285 AF 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 obtained CPUC approval for a revised rate structure that penalizes high water use and rewards low water use. The rate structure went into effect on 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 Carmel River dam is not constructed. 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 provided 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. The SWRCB stated it requires an EIR on the applications (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: District 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 once the San Clemente Dam Seismic Retrofit Project EIR is certified, field assessments of the feasibility of removing sediment and marketability of the sediment at San Clemente Dam is completed, and other pertinent information is provided. 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 met intermittently in 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 was known at the time, policy issues to be addressed and needed information in the future.