Meeting Date:

August 21, 2006





David A. Berger,




General Manager

Line Item No.:

Acct. No. 4-7860.04


Prepared By:

Henrietta Stern

Cost Estimate: 



General Counsel Approval:  Yes.

Committee Recommendation:  N/A

CEQA Compliance:  Certification is final Board action in the CEQA process.


SUMMARY:   The Board will consider certification of the Final Environmental Impact Report/Impact Assessment (EIR/EA) for the MPWMD Phase 1 Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) Project in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  The ASR Project entails diverting excess flows from the Carmel River Basin between December and May for injection into the Seaside Groundwater Basin, for later extraction in dry periods to help reduce pumping from the Carmel River.  The Phase 1 ASR Project entails one new injection well at the existing Santa Margarita Test Injection well site along with associated facilities.  The EIR/EA also addresses a temporary pipeline to be constructed by California American Water (Cal-Am) in 2006 to enable more reliable and flexible water delivery to its facilities in the Seaside area as well as to the Phase 1 ASR Project in the future. 


Specifically, the Board will consider whether to: (a) accept the Responses to Comments and revised text for the Final EIR/EA; (b) adopt Resolution 2006-04 to certify the Final EIR/EA and approve the Phase 1 ASR Project, (c) adopt CEQA Findings to certify the Final EIR/EA; and (d) adopt the Mitigation Monitoring Plan for the ASR Project.


The 120-page Final EIR/EA should be viewed as a companion volume to the March 2006 Draft EIR/EA, which is incorporated by reference.  The Final EIR/EA consists only of new or revised information; it does not reprint the Draft EIR/EA because there are relatively few changes from the Draft EIR/EA text as well as for cost reasons.  The Board was provided with printed and CD copies of the Draft EIR/EA in March 2006; limited, additional copies are available to Directors upon request.  The Final EIR/EA has been provided to the Board under separate cover, and is available at the District office and local libraries for review.  Both the Draft and Final EIR/EA are available on CD for purchase upon request.  Exhibit 10-A provides Table ES-1, Summary of Impacts and Mitigation Measures, from the Final EIR/EA.  The table identifies where changes have been made from the Draft EIR/EA. Exhibit 10-B is Resolution 2006-04.  The Resolution refers to the CEQA Findings (Exhibit 10-C) and the Mitigation Monitoring Plan (Exhibit 10-D). 


In compliance with CEQA Guidelines Section 15132, the Final EIR/EA volume includes the following components:

Ø      Chapter 1 provides a brief summary and overview of the Final EIR/EA. 

Ø      Chapter 2 provides text changes to specific sections of the Draft EIR/EA in response to comments received on the Draft document.

Ø      Chapter 3 provides a list of persons, organizations and public agencies commenting on the Draft EIR/EA, the actual comment letters (and oral comments) received, and responses to each specific comment identified in the margin of the comment letter.

Ø      Chapter 4 provides the Mitigation Monitoring Plan (MMP) to be adopted by the Board.  This chapter, which has been provided as Exhibit 10-D, specifies the mitigation measures to be implemented, who is responsible for carrying out the measures, and who is responsible for monitoring and reporting.  The District is the responsible party for all mitigation measures, excluding measures that identify Cal-Am as the responsible party.  These excluded measures are associated with the Cal-Am temporary pipeline and sedimentation in Los Padres Reservoir.

Ø      Chapter 5 provides references.

Ø      Chapter 6 identifies persons involved with report preparation.


In compliance with CEQA Guidelines Sections 15090 and 15091, the CEQA Findings are provided as Exhibit 10-C and are required to be adopted in order to certify the Final EIR/EA as complete and to approve the Phase 1 ASR Project.  Please see the “Discussion” section below for more information.


RECOMMENDATION:  Staff recommends that the Board take the following actions:


  1. Address any oral or written comments received on the Final EIR/EA and identify specific text changes or refinements that shall be incorporated into the adopted FEIR/EA document, Resolution 2006-04, CEQA Findings and/or Mitigation Monitoring Plan.
  2. Accept the Responses to Comments and revised text in the Final EIR/EA;
  3. Adopt Resolution 2006-04 (Exhibit 10-B) certifying the Final EIR/EA and approving the Phase 1 ASR Project;
    1. Adopt the CEQA Findings to certify the Final EIR/EA (Exhibit 10-C);
    2. Adopt the Mitigation Monitoring Plan for the ASR Project (Exhibit 10-D); and
  4. Direct staff to file a Notice of Determination of approval of the MWPMD Phase 1 ASR Project based on the certified Final EIR/EA.


CEQA requires that public agencies commenting on a Draft EIR be provided the response to comments 10 days before the date of certification action.  Public agencies that commented were provided the full Final EIR/EA document described above on August 11, 2006.  Non-agency entities were also provided a copy of the FEIR/EA as a courtesy.  District staff will provide the Board copies of any commenter communications received during August 14-21, 2006 and will review substantive comments at the August 21, 2006 meeting.


For reference, District staff and representatives from California Department of Fish & Game (CDFG), National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS, also known as NOAA Fisheries) and Cal-Am have been discussing terms to dismiss CDFG and NMFS protests on the District’s water rights applications (Petitions for Change) before the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) for the Phase 1 ASR Project.  These discussions are reflected in the comments, responses and text changes in the Final EIR/EA.  It is anticipated that protest dismissal terms consistent with the project operations and mitigation measures found in the Final EIR/EA will be finalized in the near future.


BACKGROUND:  In Fall 2004, the MPWMD Board directed staff to prepare an EIR on the District’s ASR project, and retained Jones & Stokes Associates (JSA) and Padre Associates to assist in this effort.  A Notice of Preparation of an EIR was issued on December 13, 2004.  Based on comments received, the Board in March 2005 directed staff and consultants to focus only on the Phase 1 ASR Project.  Please refer to the January 2006 quarterly report or weekly reports on the District website for specific details on the project and document preparation history.


The primary goal of the MPWMD Phase 1 project is improved management of existing water resources to help reduce current impacts to the Carmel River, especially during the dry season.  The project is viewed as being complementary to other larger, long-term water augmentation projects that are currently being explored by various entities.  The project entails a maximum diversion of approximately 2,400 acre-feet per year (AFY) from the Carmel River for injection, and a maximum extraction of approximately 2,000 AFY from the ASR wells in the Seaside Basin.  Based on revisions to the operations protocol resulting from analysis and response to comments on the Draft EIR/EA, the average yield from the Phase 1 ASR Project is about 920 AFY (rounded).  The proposed operation of the Phase 1 ASR Project would result in reduced pumping of the Carmel River in the Summer/Fall; a secondary benefit is temporarily increased storage in the Seaside Basin, which assists in reducing potential for seawater intrusion.  Both results are considered to be environmentally beneficial. 

At a December 22, 2005 meeting between the staffs of the U.S. Army, MPWMD and Cal-Am, the Army staff confirmed that the administrative draft EIR/EA adequately addressed the environmental effects of the MPWMD Phase 1 ASR Project.  However, the Army also indicated that a permit (easement) for the Phase 1 ASR project could not be issued until another Environmental Assessment was prepared for a temporary Cal-Am pipeline from Hilby Avenue in Seaside to the ASR site.  The primary purpose of the pipeline is to help improve existing Cal-Am operational flexibility, but an ancillary benefit is that it improves the Phase 1 ASR Project performance.  The Army position was a significant, substantial change from previous direction to both MPWMD and Cal-Am.  The Army recommended that the Cal-Am temporary pipeline information be incorporated into the EIR/EA for the MPWMD Phase 1 ASR project as the most efficient way to facilitate issuance of two separate permits – one to MPWMD for the ASR Project and one to Cal-Am for the temporary pipeline.   On January 12, 2006, Cal-Am agreed to separately retain Jones & Stokes Associates to add the pipeline information into the District’s EIR/EA.  The new information was incorporated into the public Draft EIR/EA released in March 2006.


On March 23, 2006, the District issued the Draft EIR/EA on the MPWMD Phase 1 ASR Project, including information on the temporary pipeline for NEPA (Army) purposes.  District action only addresses the CEQA EIR component.  The document was circulated for comments through May 8, 2006, and an extension to May 22, 2006 was granted to agencies that requested it.  A public hearing to receive oral comments was held on April 17, 2006.   A Notice of Availability, Executive Summary and detailed impact table are on the District website:


A total of 12 comment letters were received.  Some authors commented twice and there were notices from the State Office of Planning and Research (OPR) that attached comment letters that had already been transmitted directly to the District.  Written substantive comments were received from the following nine entities:


Government Agencies – [Federal] National Marine Fisheries Service; [State] California Coastal Commission, California Department of Fish & Game, California Department of Toxic Substances Control; [Local] Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control District, Monterey County Department of Health.


Groups, Companies or IndividualsCalifornia American Water, Carmel River Steelhead Association, Carmel Valley Association.


Two oral comments were made at the April 17, 2006 Board meeting: (1) Robert Greenwood provided the Carmel Valley Association letter, and (2) John Fischer indicated an oral question had already been answered by District staff.  


DISCUSSION:  The Final EIR/EA specifies text amendments made to chapters in the Draft EIR/EA to respond to questions and suggestions made by comment letter authors.  Key changes to the Draft EIR/EA chapters identified in the Final EIR/EA include:


Ø      Executive Summary:  Text changes and revisions to Table ES-1 were made to reflect changes to impacts and mitigation measures in other chapters.

Ø      Chapter 3, Air Quality:  Corrections and refinements were made to text and mitigation measures based on comments received from the Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control District (MBUAPCD).

Ø      Chapter 4, Vegetation and Wildlife:  A minor typographical error was corrected regarding the numbering of a mitigation measure.

Ø      Chapter 5, Aquatic Resources:  Refinements to the text were made and a new Mitigation Measure AR-1 was added in response to comments by NMFS.

Ø      Chapter 8, Hydrology and Water Quality:  Several paragraphs of text were added on various pages to clarify and explain changes in the District’s CVSIM model operating logic that affect project operations and project yield. The text for Mitigation Measure GWH-4 was also refined to clarify the intent of the Phase 1 ASR Project to benefit the Carmel River as feasible.  These revisions were made to respond to questions and concerns expressed by CDFG, NMFS, the California Coastal Commission and Carmel River Steelhead Association, and to ensure that water diverted from the Carmel River and injected into the Seaside Basin in the wet season would be extracted from the Seaside Basin (rather than being pumped from the river) in the dry season, thereby benefiting the Carmel River habitat and dependent species.  These changes to the CVSIM model altered numerical averages and maximums, but did not change the environmental impact conclusions of the Draft EIR/EA.  For example, the average project yield is now simulated at about 920 AFY (rounded) rather than the 1,050 AFY previously simulated. 

Ø      Chapter 11: Hazards and Hazardous Waste:  Corrections and refinements were made based on comments by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC).

Ø      Chapter 17, Temporary Pipeline:  Corrections and refinements about the Cal-Am temporary pipeline were made in response to comments by MBUAPCD and DTSC.


The CEQA Findings (Exhibit 10-C) have been prepared to comply with CEQA Guidelines Section 15091(a), which states: 


Prior to approving a project the lead agency shall certify that:


1)                  The final EIR has been completed in compliance with CEQA;

2)                  The final EIR was presented to the decision-making body of the lead agency, and that the decision-making body reviewed and considered the information contained in the final EIR prior to approving the project; and

3)                  The final EIR reflects the lead agency’s independent judgment and analysis.


Next Steps

The Final EIR/EA is used by the MPWMD Board in order to comply with CEQA for purposes of constructing the Phase 1 ASR Project.  Once the Notice of Determination is filed with the Monterey County Clerk and State OPR, other entities will use the certified EIR/EA in their decisions about key elements of the project (i.e., divert Carmel River water, transmit water to project, construct and operate project).  Notable entities include:


U.S. Army (BRAC Office) -- will use the certified EIR/EA to facilitate issuance of a Right-of-Entry (ROE) permit on government property to allow MPWMD to construct the Phase 1 ASR Project, pending compliance with all conditions set by the Army.  One condition to highlight is approval by the City of Seaside as it is the jurisdiction that will eventually receive title to the federal land where the project is located.  Once the project is constructed, an amended 50-year easement will be issued.  The Army will also use the EIR/EA to allow temporary pipeline construction by Cal-Am through a separate permit process.


City of Seaside -- will rely on the EIR/EA to consider the District’s application (filed May 2006) for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) that will cover visual screening and other land use-related issues associated with drilling the Phase 1 ASR Project additional well and permanent use of the existing test well. 


State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) – will rely on the certified EIR/EA for its CEQA compliance in the approval of the District’s long-term water rights application (Petitions for Change) for the Phase 1 ASR Project.


The District’s intention is that all permits necessary for ASR well construction are secured by Fall 2006 in order to keep with the current schedule that calls for the new ASR well to be constructed in the October-December 2006 period.  These permits include the City of Seaside CUP, U.S. Army ROE and a well construction permit from the Monterey County Health Department.  Actual operation of the Phase 1 ASR Project cannot occur until the SWRCB issues the water rights approvals to allow diversion of water from the Carmel River for injection into the ASR wells.  The SWRCB permit is expected in Fall 2006.  If there appears to be a delay, District and SWRCB staff are poised to apply for and consider a final temporary urgency permit to facilitate project operation in 2007. 


IMPACT TO DISTRICT RESOURCES:  There is no impact to District resources to certify the Final EIR/EA, except for a $850 fee to be paid to the Monterey County Clerk upon filing of the Notice of Determination to approve the Phase 1 ASR Project based on the certified Final EIR/EA.  This cost is included in the 2006-07 adopted budget for the Phase 1 ASR project. 



10-A    Table ES-1, Summary of Impacts and Mitigation Measures, from Final EIR/EA

10-B    Resolution 2006-04 certifying Final EIR/EA and approving Phase 1 ASR Project

10-C    CEQA Findings dated August 2006

10-D    Mitigation Monitoring Plan (Chapter 4 of Final EIR/EA)






HS, Final 8/14/06