ITEM:

PRESENTATIONS

14.

PRESENTATION BY LARRY HAMPSON ON THE CARMEL RIVER WATERSHED ASSESSMENT

Meeting Date:

From:

David A. Berger,

Program/

N/A

General Manager

Line Item No.:

Prepared By:

Larry Hampson

Cost Estimate:

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## Committee Recommendation:N/A

CEQA Compliance:  N/A

SUMMARY:  On October 30, 2003, the Board approved entering into an agreement with the Carmel River Watershed Conservancy (CRWC) to reimburse MPWMD up to $52,400 for staff services in connection with preparing environmental and biological data for portions of the Carmel River watershed. For work performed through August 31, 2004, MPWMD has billed and been reimbursed a total of$34,826.36, and approximately 90% of the assessment tasks had been completed.

Attached as Exhibit 14-A is the draft summary of MPWMD’s portion of the assessment report, titled “Environmental and Biological Assessment of Portions of the Carmel River Watershed” (note: the full report with appendices comprises more than 600 pages of text and data).  MPWMD’s work is concentrated on the main stem of the Carmel River and is intended to provide the CRWC current information and historical data on the steelhead fishery, California red-legged frogs, in-channel large wood habitat, benthic macroinvertebrates (insects) in the channel bottom, the health of streamside vegetation, and water quality.

In addition to MPWMD’s assessment of the main stem, the California State University at Monterey Bay prepared a “Physical and Hydrologic Assessment of the Carmel River Watershed,” and the CRWC assessed the health of riparian areas in several tributary drainages.  Together, these three sets of information present the most comprehensive effort to date to assess the features and health of the watershed.  The CRWC intends to hold public workshops with stakeholders in the watershed and other interested persons to present this information and to develop a plan of action for improving land management practices and carrying out various restoration activities.  The CRWC will rely on the assessments and the subsequent action plan in its future applications for funds to protect and improve the watershed.

MPWMD staff sifted through many years of data, some going back to the late 1950s, to arrive at an assessment of the past and current conditions of the main stem.  In very broad terms, the health of the river appears to have improved significantly since the mid-1980s, with the steelhead fishery and riparian vegetation showing fairly dramatic gains.  However, the river environment remains at risk of degradation from flow diversions, sedimentation, and urbanization.  It is clear that additional study is needed to determine how resource development, land management practices, and urbanization in the watershed affect various wetland and riparian resources in the main stem.  MPWMD staff made several recommendations for the CRWC to consider for improving the long-term management and health of the riparian corridor along the main stem of the Carmel River (see pp. 7-8 of attached summary, Exhibit 14-A).

RECOMMENDATION:  This is a status report on MPWMD’s work to date on developing and assembling information for the CRWC’s assessment of the Carmel River watershed.  No action by the Board is required.

BACKGROUND:  In January of 1999, Congressman Sam Farr called a meeting in Carmel Valley Village in response to federal agency concerns about enforcing terms of the Federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).  Steelhead and California red-legged frogs in the Carmel River have been listed as threatened species under the protection of the ESA.  County Supervisor David Potter was charged by Congressman Farr to help form a watershed council for the Carmel River.

The Carmel River Watershed Conservancy (CRWC) was formed as the legal entity of a nonprofit, community based organization composed of "stakeholders," collectively known as the Carmel River Watershed Council.  The Council’s steering committee is comprised of 12 people representing: 1) hospitality businesses; 2) livestock grazers; 3) agricultural growers;  4) organizations with natural lands;  5) environmental groups;  6) recreationists;  7) residential groups;  8) educational and cultural resource organizations;  9) riparian floodplain residents;  10) businesses including builders, developers and contractors;  11) the Cachagua Area of Carmel Valley, which includes National Forest lands, two reservoirs, residences, ranches and vineyards; and 12) water companies (purveyors).  The CRWC works with local, state and federal agencies for improved management of the Carmel River watershed. The CRWC's primary commitment for protection and restoration of the watershed is to ensure the health and viability of the Carmel River.

Since 1999, MPWMD has participated on a technical committee formed by the CRWC to help author a watershed assessment report.  MPWMD staff also gave a presentation to the Council on river restoration activities sponsored by MPWMD.  In October 2003, MPWMD entered into a contract with the CRWC to provide technical services in developing an assessment of the main stem of the Carmel River.  Funding for this project was provided in through a contract between the CRWC and the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) pursuant to the Costa-Machado Water Act of 2000 (Proposition 13), and amendments thereto, for the implementation of California’s Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Program.

The CRWC has until January 1, 2005 to complete its assessment and action plan for the watershed.

EXHIBITS

14-A    Draft Summary of the Environmental and Biological Assessment of Portions of the Carmel River Watershed

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