Consider Approval of Recommended Spending Priorities for Restoration of the Steelhead Resource in the Carmel River Watershed


Meeting Date:

March 19, 2007





David A. Berger,




General Manager

Line Item No.:



Prepared By:

Darby Fuerst

Cost Estimate:



General Counsel Approval:  N/A

Committee Recommendation: N/A

CEQA Compliance:  N/A


SUMMARY:  In its October 2006 Strategic Plan, the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District (District or MPWMD) Board requested that staff “merge and prioritize” lists of proposed restoration projects in the Carmel River Watershed so that the District would have a position on spending priorities.  The Board also requested that the District’s Carmel River Advisory Committee (CRAC) review the recommended spending priorities.  The merged list of proposed steelhead restoration projects is included as Exhibit 19-A. The recommendations are based on lists of proposed steelhead restoration projects developed by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the Carmel River Watershed Conservancy (CRWC) in November 2005 and October 2006, respectively.  Note that the NMFS is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  The CRAC reviewed and approved the MPWMD staff proposed list of recommendations at their regular meeting on February 8, 2007. 


RECOMMENDATION:  The Board should consider and approve the spending priorities for restoration of the steelhead resource in the Carmel River Watershed recommended by staff.  District staff’s ranking of the proposed restoration projects is shown in he first column of Exhibit 19-A under the heading “MPWMD Rank”.   If approved, the recommendations would represent the District’s position on spending priorities for restoration of the steelhead resource in the Carmel River Watershed.




NMFS Proposed Restoration Projects:  Exhibit 19-A includes the nine proposed restoration projects that were developed as part of a workshop conducted by NMFS in November 2005.  Participants at the workshop included staff from NMFS, California American Water (CAW), Carmel River Steelhead Association (CRSA), CRWC, and the District. Representatives from the  California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the Sierra Club were invited, but were unable to attend.  Exhibit 19-B is a summary of the workshop results that was prepared by NMFS and includes detailed descriptions of each of the proposed restoration projects.  As indicated in Exhibit 19-B, the goal of the workshop was to produce a list of “potential mitigation projects that would improve the survival of steelhead in the Carmel River” in the interim period before a long-term water supply project is constructed. 


2006 NOAA Settlement Agreement: The proposed projects that were identified at the November 2005 workshop would be funded by CAW under a settlement agreement with NOAA that was executed on June 29, 2006.  As part of the settlement agreement, CAW agreed to provide funding to improve habitat conditions for, and production of, South Central California Coast  (SCCC) steelhead and otherwise aid in the recovery of SCCC in the Carmel River Watershed.  As agreed, CAW would provide an initial lump sum of $3,500,000 and an additional $1,100,000 each year until 2013, or until CAW complies with State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) Order No. WR 95-10, whichever occurs first.  Under the agreement, NOAA shall, “at its sole discretion, select and prioritize the projects to be funded with the money supplied by CAW.  NOAA shall consult with CAW on all projects funded under the Agreement”.  A copy of the 2006 settlement agreement between CAW and NOAA is included as Exhibit 19-C. 


Based on discussions with NMFS staff, it is District staff’s understanding that, although the settlement agreement was accepted and signed by NMFS and CAW on June 29, 2006, CAW has not provided any payments to NMFS to date.  NMFS staff in the Santa Rosa Area Office have indicated that CAW and NMFS attorneys are presently negotiating implementation of the settlement agreement. 


Exhibit 19-A shows the ranking that the participants at the NMFS workshop assigned to each of the proposed restoration projects in the second column under “NMFS Rank”.  As part of the workshop, the participants developed eight criteria for ranking the proposed restoration projects.  These criteria included:



The estimated cost and time to implement the proposed restoration projects shown in Exhibit 19-A were taken from Exhibit 19-B.  Note that some of the costs are one-time costs and some of the costs are annual costs or costs per structure.  Similarly, some of the time estimates are per structure.


CRWC Proposed Restoration Projects:  Exhibit 19-A also shows proposed restoration projects or actions from the CRWC 2006 Action Plan that complement the proposed projects developed in the NMFS workshop.  These actions are shown in the fourth column under “CRWC Action Plan Item”.  The 2006 Action Plan Revision was prepared in October 2006 by Tamara Doan of the Coastal Watershed Council and Monica Hunter of the Planning and Conservation League Foundation with guidance and assistance from the CRWC Technical Advisory Committee (TAC).  The proposed actions in the 2006 Action Plan Revision were originally developed as part of the 2002 Carmel River Watershed Assessment and Action Plan and are summarized in matrix form in Exhibit 19-D.  Note that this matrix includes eight categories of actions, i.e., cross-cut, flows, groundwater, habitat, public safety, public outreach and education, sediment, monitoring, in addition to a steelhead category. 


As shown in Exhibit 19-D, the matrix includes details of each proposed action, the problems that each action addresses, benefits from the action, lead organization or agency, key partners, estimated cost, permits required, potential funding, TAC ranking within each category, and the watershed area or tributary in which each action would be focused. As indicated above, each CRWC action that is shown on Exhibit 19-A was selected from the 2006 Action Plan Revision because it is consistent with and supports, in part or whole, the associated restoration project proposed by the NMFS workshop participants.  For example, the CRWC action MON-1 that is shown with the NMFS Lagoon Reverse Osmosis Project calls for “develop an adaptive management program for water quality in the lagoon, including installing an automated water quality monitoring station in the lagoon; coordinating with Carmel Area Wastewater District (CAWD) for discharge of tertiary water into the lagoon …”.


MPWMD Recommended Spending Priorities:  Based on the information and criteria developed by the NMFS workshop group and the information and rankings developed by the CRWC and its TAC, District staff merged the two lists of proposed restoration projects and ranked the projects based on spending priority.  District’s staff ranking of the projects is shown in the first column of Exhibit 19-A under the “MPWMD Rank” heading.  District staff’s rankings are similar to the NMFS rankings and differ only in the middle group. 


Based on the assumption that the funding for the proposed projects would be provided by CAW for steelhead restoration under the 2006 settlement agreement with NMFS, District staff focused on restoration projects that would benefit the steelhead resource in the Carmel River Watershed in the next seven years, i.e., 2006 through 2013, and that could be funded.  District staff believes that additional flow in the Carmel River during dry periods provides the greatest overall benefit to the steelhead resource.  However, the cost for certain projects that would increase dry season flows, such dredging Los Padres Reservoir would exceed the amount of funding available under the settlement agreement. 


Lastly, it should be noted that the 2006 CRWC Action Plan included four actions or groups of actions that did not complement the restoration projects proposed by the NMFS workshop participants.  Although these actions were not listed by the NMFS workshop participants, District staff believes that these actions are important.  These actions include, in rank order, SH-4, 5 and 9, SH-2, SH-3, and SH-1. Details of these actions are provided in Exhibit 19-D.


IMPACT TO STAFF/RESOURCES:  There are no direct impacts to District staff or resources from approving the recommended spending priorities for restoration of the Carmel River steelhead resources at this time.  However, it is anticipated that District staff will continue to expend oversight time and effort while tracking the progress of this process in the future.



19-A    Recommended Spending Priorities for Restoration of the Carmel River Steelhead Resource, March 2007.

19-B    Potential Mitigation Project Resulting from Mitigation Workshop, November 18, 2005, prepared by NMFS staff.

19-C    2006 Settlement Agreement between California American Water Company and the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, June 29, 2006.

19-D    Carmel River Watershed Assessment & Action Plan, 2006 Action Plan Revision, October 9, 2006, prepared for the Carmel River Watershed Conservancy by Tamara Doan, Coastal Watershed Council, and Monica Hunter, Planning and Conservation League Foundation.