Meeting Date:

August 18, 2008





Darby W. Fuerst




General Manager

Line Item No.:




Prepared By:


Larry Hampson

Cost Estimate:


General Counsel Approval:  N/A

Committee Recommendation:  N/A

CEQA Compliance:  N/A


SUMMARY:  This item is to update the Board on the status of a three-year goal to enhance and protect the water resources of the Carmel River and the Seaside Groundwater Basin by seeking funding for completion of a long-term management plan for the Carmel River Lagoon.  In April 2007, District staff finalized the “Study Plan for Long Term Adaptive Management of the Carmel River State Beach and Lagoon.”  The plan, which was prepared with input from several federal and state agencies involved in lagoon management, outlined several studies at an estimated cost of $850,000 that are needed to complete a long-term plan.  To date, no funds have been secured to begin these studies.


District staff believe that funds for the Lagoon plan may be available from the Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) grant program, which is funded from Prop. 50, Prop. 84, and Prop. 1E bond funds.  Completion of a plan for the Lagoon is prpposed in the Monterey Peninsula, Carmel Bay, and Southern Monterey Bay IRWM Plan, which was developed to meet the guidelines of the IRWM grant program.  The Department of Water Resources (DWR), which is the state agency responsible for administering the remainder of the IRWM funds, is scheduled to release the final guidelines for awarding Prop. 84 funds at the end of 2008 and award grants in mid-2009.  However, at this time, it is not possible to determine when or if funds from the IRWM program would be made available for the lagoon plan.


In addition to seeking state funding, over the past two years District staff have discussed with the Monterey County Water Resources Agency (MCWRA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) the potential for funding projects in the Carmel River watershed through federal grant programs.  The Corps administers two Continuing Authority Programs (CAP) that are funded annually by Congress.  These programs are appropriate for small flood control and habitat enhancement projects (up to $7 million) such as some of the projects in the Carmel River watershed.  However, these programs are significantly oversubscribed and the wait for funding can be up to several years, according to the San Francisco Corps office.  District staff have also discussed with the Corps the potential for completing a General Investigation (GI) study of the watershed, which could lead to special funding from Congress for projects in the watershed.  Moving forward with either the CAP or a GI would likely require a special budget request by the local Congressional representative (currently, the Honorable Sam Farr) in order to obtain funding for a reconnaissance study to start the process.  Initially, the cost of such a study of the watershed would be entirely funded by the Corps.  If the Corps determines that there are projects that the Corps could participate in, the local cost share for moving forward would vary between 35% and 50%, depending on the stage a project is in (e.g., feasibility, design, or construction).  Mr. Farr has expressed interest in providing assistance to the Carmel River watershed, but he has also noted that funds for water resource-related projects are limited in the federal budget.


By Memorandum of Understanding, MCWRA is responsible for flood control projects in the watershed, including any proposed projects to reduce the threat of flooding around the Lagoon.  At present, the Big Sur Land Trust (BSLT) is coordinating work along the south side of the Carmel River east of Highway 1 that would restore natural floodplain processes and increase the riparian forest in the lower river.  This work has the potential to affect the long-term management of the lagoon.  District staff is scheduled to meet in mid-August 2008 with MCWRA and BSLT to coordinate the BSLT work with proposals for work at the lagoon.  In addition, the potential for obtaining federal funds will be discussed.


BACKGROUND:  In the April 14, 2008 update of the MPWMD six-month strategic objectives, the Board determined that the following action should be taken by staff as part of a three-year goal to “Enhance and protect the water resources of the Carmel River and the Seaside Groundwater Basin for the benefit of the environment and the community: Identify potential federal and/or state funding for Carmel River Lagoon Adaptive Management Study Plan and present to the Board.”  A date of August 1, 2008 was set for completing this action.  MPWMD staff note that the schedule for completing this action is highly dependent on the actions of other local, state, and federal agencies.